Kerryon Johnson impressive in Lions’ loss to Raiders; plus 5 other thoughts

Rookies step up in Matt Patricia’s debut

Kerryon Johnson was a hit in his Lions debut.

Detroit lost 16-10 to the Oakland Raiders in the preseason opener, but the score really didn’t mean much. The rookies made plays and it appears the Lions didn’t sustain any serious injuries in Matt Patricia’s debut.

Johnson, the rookie running back, lit up the third quarter. He ran, he cut, he leaped. When it was over he had seven carries for 34 yards (4.9 yards per carry). Johnson also had four catches for 33 yards.

Look, it’s early and he wasn’t going against the Raiders’ starting defense. However, he wasn’t playing behind the Lions starting offensive line either.

However, there can be no denying this kid has vision, he can run it up the gut, he has burst and breakaway speed. Oh, and a good stiff-arm move. It all adds up to scamperability.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DETROIT LIONS

Much was expected of Johnson. He didn’t wilt under pressure, instead he blossomed.

Other impressions:

1. The defense has some work to do. They not only had trouble stopping the Raiders on the run, but also the pass rush was anemic. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who returned to practice this week, didn’t play. Ansah’s return will be welcomed but this situation needs attention. Kerry Hyder, in his first game back after missing all of last season, looked solid which is a good sign. This isn’t a surprise since he’s had a good camp. Remember he had eight sacks to lead the team in 2018. The Raiders finished with 148 rushing yards. It would have been more but Marshawn Lynch had a 60-yard run called back due to a holding penalty.

2. Love that Matt Patricia sat Matthew Stafford and T.J. Lang. No reason to risk injury to either one especially since they were playing on a baseball field. Matt Cassel got the start with Jake Rudock mopping up. Although Cassel was brought back in with two minutes remaining to get in a little work on the two-minute offense. If the Lions just keep two quarterbacks, the 39-year-old Cassel has positioned himself to be the backup.

3. Rookie Frank Ragnow at left guard was impressive, especially in pass protection. He should be, he’s a first-round pick. Still, it was his first game. He did his job. Thought the line would be better at opening up lanes for the run. Put that on Jim Bob Cooter’s to-do list.

4. Miles Killebrew, playing at linebacker, recovered a fumble at the Detroit 7-yard line in the third quarter. Just because they moved him from safety to linebacker does not mean they do not believe in him. But he has to prove that he can handle the position. We know he’s a beast on special teams.

5. It’s going to be a battle at running back to find a spot on the 53-man roster. Kerryon Johnson is a lock, but there’s going to be an odd man out. That makes Ameer Abdullah’s good showing key. He had four runs for 16 yards and a touchdown. LeGarrette Blount carried five times for 21 yards in his first game wearing a Lions jersey.

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Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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