Detroit Lions: Five things to watch in preseason game vs. Giants

Unclear how much starters will play

ALLEN PARK >> Matt Patricia will coach his first game at Ford Field when the Lions host the New York Giants at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Lions coach is geeked even though it’s a preseason contest.

Under that bushy beard, Patricia has a plan as the next few weeks develop to find the best players for each position. The quest continues in the second preseason game.

He wants to see improvement from the Week 1 loss at the Oakland Raiders.

“Trying to keep a basic game plan from that standpoint and just trying to increase the level of execution, see if we can improve from that standpoint,’’ Patricia said on Thursday before the walk-through with the Giants.

“We’ll add a couple new things that we maybe didn’t look at last week just to take a look at them on the field and see how that goes. But, for us, it’s just going to be that constant improvement. The overall operation—hopefully that goes off better than it did last week, and then the on-field performance, too,’’ Patricia said.

Five things to look for in Friday’s contest:

1. Matthew Stafford did not play a snap last week and may not get on the field on Friday either. Patricia was non-committal when asked if his quarterback will play.  “Everybody’s going to be ready to go,’’ Patricia said. While Stafford will most likely get in at least one preseason game, remember he has gotten valuable experience from joint practices the last two weeks with the Raiders and the Giants.

2. Patricia also would not say how long the starters will remain in the game. It depends on the flow and, of course, different position groups will see more time than others.

3. Against the Raiders, Ameer Abdullah got the bulk of the work at running back in the first half, while Kerryon Johnson opened eyes in the second half. Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington did not play at all. So who will get the most carries against the Giants? Tough to tell. Abdullah again had many carries with the ones at camp this week. LeGarrette Blount may get a carry or two along with Zach Zenner.

4. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah did not play last week, but has practiced all this week. His tendency toward injury, could keep him on the sideline on Friday. Once the season starts, he may play on the inside along with his typical spot outside. “I think he’s obviously a tremendous player and causes some different issues across the board. So, getting an advantage or getting an opportunity to look at him in some of those different alignments, I think, is good for us. I don’t really know what it’s going to shape out to be when we get to the regular season,’’ Patricia said. “But, from a standpoint of just giving him some different ways to pressure an offense or put the offense under duress, is always a good thing for us. So, he’s long, he’s a really long guy, he’s very strong, and he has a real good quickness about him, too. Which, when you can match him up against different offensive linemen across the board, you can get some advantages there.”

5. Cornerback Darius Slay had a few match-ups in the joint practices this week with Giants’ superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. But don’t expect to see them match up in the game.  Beckham is not expected to play on Friday night, according to the New York Post. Beckham, who said he’s feeling good, is coming off a fractured left ankle that occurred in October forcing him to miss the rest of the season. If Friday’s game mattered he would be on the field, but no need to push it.

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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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