Friday, August 22, 2014
Observation Deck: Detroit Lions
By Michael Rothstein
DETROIT -- A week ago, Jonte Green was picked on by Oakland during the Raiders’ game-winning drive. On Friday, he didn’t see any time until the fourth quarter against Jacksonville.
In his short work Friday, the cornerback battling for a spot on the roster ended up with a big play. Green picked off a Ricky Stanzi pass on the Jaguars’ second-to-last drive to secure a 13-12 win for Detroit -- its third straight game decided by a single point.
Here are some other thoughts from the Lions’ third preseason game:
- Tahir Whitehead received the surprise start over Ashlee Palmer at strongside linebacker Friday night and took advantage. The third-year pro from Temple had four tackles in the first two series and ended up around the ball the entire game. Already likely on the roster due to his special-teams skills, he has been trying to make a push to show he can be an NFL linebacker, too. He took a step toward that against the Jaguars.
- George Johnson received valuable chances while Ezekiel Ansah was injured. Now that Ansah is back, at least in a limited role, Johnson is still making as many plays as possible. Johnson sacked Chad Henne in the first half and had at least one more really strong pressure. He is also consistently on the Lions’ nickel pass-rush unit at defensive end. Seeing him play this much with the first group bodes well for his chances to make the roster. He also showed up on special-teams units throughout the game, so he can be versatile there, too.
- Quarterback Matthew Stafford was 10-of-16 for 98 yards and an interception. He was really good on some throws but fell into the old habit of forcing the ball to Calvin Johnson on others -- including the pass he had intercepted. Stafford moved well in the pocket though, and did well to evade Jacksonville's rush.
- The Lions should be pleased with their pass rush against Jacksonville. Johnson and Devin Taylor picked up sacks and there were numerous other quarterback pressures -- including a roughing-the-passer call on Ndamukong Suh that earned a flag. That some of the pressure came from linebacker Stephen Tulloch and cornerback Bill Bentley is another sign of the type of blitzing the Lions are going to do this season.
- Hello, penalties. The Lions brought in Jim Caldwell to instill discipline and cut down on penalties. The Lions failed there Friday, committing 15 penalties for 131 yards -- not the statement a team preaching discipline wanted to make. Detroit had 16 penalties for 106 yards in the first two games combined.
- It was not a good night for George Winn. He saw some running back reps with the first team, but also committed his second fumble of the preseason. For a player trying to make the roster as the last running back, that won’t help his cause. His competition, Mikel Leshoure, didn’t do a ton but did have a 30-yard run in the fourth quarter. Leshoure then fumbled on the next play.