Detroit Lions lack of depth shows in 31-3 preseason loss to New England Patriots

DETROIT — It wasn’t that the Lions lost to the New England Patriots 31-3 in the preseason opener, it was how they lost.

Of course, most starters did not play but that’s the way it was for both teams in the game at Ford Field on Thursday.

So no matter how you paint it, it was not pretty. Camp is not over and depth at certain positions (including the offensive line) seems to be an issue

The Patriots scored four touchdowns while the Lions managed just eight first downs.

Lions quarterbacks Tom Savage (who started) and backup David Fales were sacked nine times losing 81 yards. To start the second half guards Kenny Wiggins and Graham Glasgow were in, giving Fales a little more protection.

At the end of that ugly first half New England had amassed 262 yards while the Lions could only manage 28. When it was over the Patriots had 459 total net yards while the Lions had 93.

Need more examples?

Patriots rookie wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who was not drafted, caught two touchdown passes — once beating safety Miles Killebrew in coverage and then getting past cornerback Mike Ford on the second score. 

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

“Obviously a long night for us here, with the game not obviously how we wanted it to go. Give the Patriots credit, they came out and played hard, they did a great job of executing plays they ran tonight,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “We have to do a better job of going out and competing and we have to do a better job of executing the plays we need to execute at.’’

Patricia didn’t seem angry, just more determined. He knows what needs to be done.

It’s a loss but it’s a preseason game and, like he mentioned, it was their first game in seven months.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re in the middle of camp, we’ve got to keep grinding away and get better,’’ said Patricia whose team will head to Houston next week for joint practices before the preseason game at Houston on Aug. 17.

A few times he mentioned that the improvements have to start with the coaches.

“You always try to evaluate the first game and some of the things you’re working on when you go through practice,’’ Patricia said. “Things you see in practice you want to make sure that transfers over to the game, that will be a big part of the evaluation.’’

Not too many highlights but running back Ty Johnson had a few nice runs — officially three carries for 22 yards but he had a long scamper called back. While Killebrew got beat on one touchdown he had six tackles which was tied with safety Andrew Adams and rookie cornerback Amani Oruwariye. 

In case there was any question to why most starters did not see action, the Lions had two go down with what could be serious injuries before the end of the first quarter.

Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was carted off with a left leg in jury less than three minutes into the game. Patriots’ Terrence Brooks rolled onto Kearse’s leg and twisted it. The veteran had a chance to make the Lions’ roster as the fourth wide receiver. No word on the severity of his injury, but the replay did not look good. 

Backup quarterback Tom Savage was sacked on back-to-back plays, hitting the top of his head on the second one. He left the game and didn’t return. It looked like it could have been a concussion but no official word.

Patricia said they are in an evaluation process for all the injured players so no updates.

Then in the second quarter, defensive tackle Darius Kilgo suffered what appeared to be a left leg injury. He was helped off the field by trainers.

Zach Zenner was taken into the popup blue tent on the sideline likely to be evaluated for a concussion but he was soon back on the bench.

The Lions have Friday off and then will continue training camp on Saturday and Sunday.

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Patriots’ QB Tom Brady still going strong at 42 during workout with Detroit Lions

ALLEN PARK — After a grinding joint practice with the Detroit Lions on Monday morning, the New England Patriots ran hill drills and then sang happy birthday to their quarterback, Tom Brady.

“It was a different rendition of  the traditional happy birthday but it was nice,’’ said Brady who turned 42 on Saturday.

On Sunday he signed a two-year contract extension worth $23 million for this season, per ESPN. It was hardly a surprise since Brady has led the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships and has defied age for the past few years.

“Just had a great history, I love playing quarterback here, I love this team, the organization, Mr. (Robert) Kraft, Jonathan (Kraft), coach (Bill) Belichick, all the coaches, all the players,’’ Brady said. “The focus this year is on what we have to do so that’s where I’m focused. That’s all that really matters in the end. That’s what this team expects for me to put everything in it like I always have and I’m real excited for the year. This was good competition today we needed it to see where we’re at and try to make quite a few corrections, go out there tomorrow and see if we can do better.’’

Brady looked sharp during the workouts completing a high percentage of his passes against the Lions’ defense in team drills and seven-on-sevens.

The joint practices will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to the first preseason game for both teams at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Ford Field.

Current Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola, who played for five seasons with the Patriots, is not surprised by Brady’s success and longevity.

“He works extremely hard, he’s very deserving of all he’s got,’’ Amendola said. “I’m happy for him, he’s a good friend. Any time I get to watch him play football is good.’’

Brady was peppered with questions about the future beyond 2021. He has said he wants to play until he’s 45 and seems to be headed in the right direction.

“I’m not worked up about it, I’m secure for this year I think — I got a few first-team reps out there,’’ Brady said with a smile.

“It’s a unique situation. I’m 20 years with the same team, I’ll be 42 years old it’s pretty much uncharted territory,’’ Brady added.

His health is the key for his longevity. In the past 10 years the only games he’s missed was for a four-game suspension in 2016.

“You’ve got to take care of your body. I wrote a book on it literally, I live by it and I think it’s given me pretty good results,’’ said Brady, the author of “The TB12 Method.” “I try to pass it on to the next generation so they don’t have to go through the same mistakes I did. Everyone learns different ways. Hopefully I can be an inspiration, I’ve got a great opportunity to prove to a lot of people they didn’t think I could do it and hopefully I can. Well done is better than well said.’’

“He can play forever,’’ Amendola said.

Brady just loves the game and it shows.

His eyes lit up when he was asked if it was good to be back in the state of Michigan.

“I love it, I love it,’’ he said.

After all he played his college ball 34 miles west of the Lions facility at the University of Michigan.

 

 

Lions Danny Amendola looks forward to joint practices with Patriots this week

ALLEN PARK — Full-tilt, full-go, all day.

That’s Danny Amendola’s vision for three days of Detroit Lions training camp, starting Monday, when the New England Patriots will be in for joint practices.

“I love them, they’re huge —  a lot of intense reps, game reps, different looks and finally we get to hit somebody else beside ourselves,’’ the Lions wide receiver said after Sunday’s training camp session.

Prior to spending 2018 with the Miami Dolphins, Amendola spent five seasons playing for the Patriots, winning two Super Bowl rings along the way.

“We’ve been going against our guys, the Lions, for a few weeks, then OTAs, so we’re all excited about hitting somebody else for a change, learn new techniques, get better,’’ Amendola said.

He insists his past relationship with the Patriots won’t be a factor in the joint workouts leading up to Thursday night’s preseason opener against New England at Ford Field.

“It’s the same across the board for me whether it’s Patriots, or we’re going to Houston the next week, so it’s all work for me,’’ Amendola said. “It’s all good reps and I’m going to try to maximize my opportunities.’’

Amendola, who is 33, has fit in quickly with the Lions new-look offense. He and quarterback Matthew Stafford have found a rhythm which showed on Sunday with a deep touchdown pass to the former Patriot who is trying to find his role on the team.

Amendola’s age may set him apart from the other Lions receivers. Closest in age are Marvin Jones Jr., and Jermaine Kearse who are both 29. Amendola is a living reminder that age is just a number. He runs out every play, every drill like he’s a rookie. 

He likes the wide receivers group — says it’s a good group.

“We’re always talking. Everybody in the room is always talking, throwing around ideas – old ways, new ways of trying to get open,’’ Amendola said.

He’s learning too.

What exactly can an old dog learn from a young pup?

“How to run fast,’’ Amendola said.

Detroit Lions camp: Three draft picks among the early stand-outs

ALLEN PARK — After a week of training camp, three of the Detroit Lions draft picks have stood out.

That doesn’t mean the others will not contribute this season, but early on it’s clear that first-round pick tight end T.J. Hockenson (first round), linebacker Jahlani Tavai (second round) and cornerback Amani Oruwariye (fifth round) have what it takes. 

All eyes have been on Hockenson since Day 1. No. 88 is so smooth for a rookie and appears to have developed quite a connection with quarterback Matthew Stafford. He makes the tough catches especially in the corner of the end zone on goal-line drills. He beats defenders in one-on-one drills. It’s early but there isn’t much to not like about the kid.

“He knows that he has a lot to learn and he’s got a long way to go, but he is a hard worker. He loves the game, the guys got a great attitude, the guy just loves the grind and the passion of the game,” coach Matt Patricia said. “So, you take it, you work with it, you go forward, and he’s got a skill set that hopefully we got to see out on the field.”

The Lions were roundly criticized when they drafted Tavai in the second round out of Hawaii because no one else had him going that high. Didn’t matter. Tavai is exactly who they wanted and they got him. He snagged an interception this week from Stafford. Watch one practice and you won’t be able to keep your eyes off No. 51. Again, it’s early but he’s been impressive so far.

Oruwarije (in photo) has seen plenty of reps in camp with Darius Slay on the sidelines (non-football injury). 

“We all know what (Slay) can do, he’s a great player and so I just try to ask him as many questions as I can, I have to use my resources. He’s got so much experience and knowledge I’d be dumb to not ask him questions and learn some things I can take from his game I can take to mine.”

In fact, Oruwarije got some first-team reps on Thursday and grabbed his first interception on a ball intended for none other than Kenny Golladay. 

“Just kind of like being a little tighter, just play with my upper leverage and worked on the technique that (defensive backs) coach Brian Stewart teaches me, came down with the play,’’ Oruwariye said. Like it was that simple.

 

 

Mike Daniels says Matt Patricia is reason he signed with Detroit Lions

ALLEN PARK — Thirteen NFL teams called within the first hour after defensive tackle Mike Daniels was released by the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday.

He signed with the Detroit Lions on Saturday and was on the practice field on Sunday for the fourth day of training camp. He was not in pads so he didn’t fully participate but he was out there soaking it in.

Make no mistake about it, there was one reason that Daniels chose the Lions. His name is Matt Patricia.

“He’s just a genius, he really is. He understands the game of football he knows what it takes to be able to play for a coach like that means everything,’’ the 30-year-old Daniels said. “I’m trying to be restrained right now but I’m so excited if I could do a backflip right now I would, I’m so excited.’’

Daniels, who played for the past seven seasons with the Packers, had never met Patricia until their interview on Friday.

“I knew everything about him, I’ve always respected him and respected his work. I thank God I got cut and I have an opportunity to play with a defensive genius,’’ Daniels said. “I’m glad I get the opportunity to play for a coach that demands doing things the right way.

Daniels will join Snacks Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, Trey Flowers, Da’Shawn Hand and Romeo Okwara on the defensive line. 

“They definitely have a tough defensive front, they’ve always done a great job. I’ve always respected the Lions’ defensive front and now with coach Paticia being here and seeing the guys he’s brought over here they’ve only gotten better, couldn’t help but notice,’’ Daniels said. “To be able to play with those guys is awesome.’’

He said he’s known Harrison since college and has the utmost admiration for him.

While Daniels seems elated to be in Detroit, he was careful not to in any way slam the Packers. 

He credits Green Bay coaches for making him the player he is today.

Daniels missed the last six games of the season in 2018 with a foot injury. He wasn’t clear when asked about his foot.

“Just working and taking everything day by day,” Daniels said.

Patricia was also a little unclear about the status of Daniels’ foot injury.

“You’re not going to throw him in there for 1,000 reps. That’s not really going to work, but you just go along with kind of the pattern of what I said,’’ Patricia said. “He’ll be out there and go through the drills, and we’ll get familiar with him from that standpoint. Trust him, he’s a professional. He’s done this for a long time at a high level. That feedback is critical for me, and our coaching staff, and our medical staff.’’

 

Detroit Lions camp: Kenny Wiggins on O-line competition, facing Mike Daniels

 ALLEN PARK — Guard Kenny Wiggins, for one, is happy to have Mike Daniels as a newcomer on the Detroit Lions roster.

The Lions announced on Saturday that they have signed the veteran Pro Bowl defensive end who was released by the Green Bay Packers before camp.

Wiggins, who is battling for a starting role at guard, vividly remembers the first time he faced Daniels.

“My third start ever at Green Bay when I was with the Chargers. He gave me a little fit, we ran 93 plays that game, which is a lot, and a lot of them were passes,’’ Wiggins said. “That was fun. No sacks though.’’

Daniels will add to a formidable defensive line that includes Damon “Snacks” Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, Trey Flowers, Da’Shawn Hand and Romeo Okwara.

Wiggins said they should have some good battles at camp between the offensive and defensive lines.

“It’s going to make us better, it’s only going to make the whole team better too,’’ Wiggins said. “I would say the games are won up front. Iron sharpens iron. So whoever comes out on top one day, the next day we’re going to get better, we’re going to come out and get better and be better as a total unit.’’

Wiggins started 10 games at right guard for the Lions last season when T.J. Lang was injured. With Frank Ragnow moved to center from left guard and Lang retired both guard spots are up for grabs in camp. Graham Glasgow and and Joe Dahl are also in the mix along with veteran Oday Aboushi.

“We have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football and all of us have great depth and that’s a good thing to have,’’ Wiggins said. “Whoever gets the nod — it’s up in the air right now so who knows — we’re just out here competing trying to get better.’’

Saturday was the third day of camp, but the first day in pads 

“Once the pads come on that’s when camp starts for me, just out in pajamas before then,’’ Wiggins said. “This is camp now.”

It’s official: Lions sign DE Mike Daniels; surprisingly release Theo Riddick

ALLEN PARK — The Lions made it official on Saturday morning that they’ve signed veteran defensive end Mike Daniels.

Running back Theo Riddick was released to make room for Daniels.

Coach Matt Patricia made the announcements Saturday morning just before the start of camp.

“I have a lot of respect for (Daniels), he’s had really good production in the way he plays the game, he’s very intense,’’ Patricia said noting his knowledge of the game.

Patricia said he met with Daniels on Thursday. 

“He’s very aware of the division which is nice,’’ Patricia said.

Daniels joins Damon “Snacks” Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, Trey Flowers, Da’Shawn Hand and Romeo Okwara on the defensive line. 

The Green Bay Packers released the 30-year-old Daniels just before the start of camp.

The seven-year veteran signed a one-year deal worth $9.1 according to several reports. He was set to make $8.1 million in Green Bay this season.

Daniels, a Pro Bowler in 2017, had 29 sacks in his seven years with the Packers. He was a fourth-round draft pick in 2012. 

Patricia would not get into details of why they cut Riddick who was scheduled to make $3.2 million this season.

“Theo is obviously a great professional, did a lot of great things for us,’’ Patricia said.

Riddick spent the last six seasons with the Lions. Last season in 14 games he had 40 carries for 171 yards and 61 catches for 384 yards.

The Lions added veteran running back C.J. Anderson in the offseason and have depth at the position with Kerryon Johnson, Zack Zenner and rookie Ty Johnson.