DETROIT — Dan Campbell got his first good look at his Lions in a game situation. While there is much work to be done, it turns out there was plenty to be optimistic about.
The Lions lost their preseason opener, 16-15, to the Buffalo Bills on Friday night at Ford Field before an announced crowd of 47,048 (wink, wink).
“I thought they played hard, they did. We wanted them to compete, they did. From day one we said we wanted to give ourselves a chance to win at the end of the game, even for a preseason game we did do that. … We all know it’s not good enough,’’ Campbell said.
It was close. Detroit took a 15-13 lead with a 28-yard field goal by Randy Bullock with 1:38 left. But the Bills managed to get downfield to give kicker Tyler Bass the chance to win it with a 44-yard field goal.
It was the preseason so much of Campbell’s goal was to give guys reps to see what they could show him.
“You’re doing things to really evaluate guys. Of course you want to win the game, you’re trying to give carries, give (David) Blough throws, you’re trying to do a lot of things to evaluate versus other talent,’’ Campbell said. “With what you’re given and where you’re at, how do we find a way to win.’’
Five standouts from the game:
ONE: Starting quarterback Jared Goff engineered an 18-play drive in the first quarter that gave the Lions their first points of the night after a 28-yard field goal by Bullock. Goff finished 7-of-9 for 56 yards with a 92.6 quarterback rating. Nice drive after a three-and-out on the first possession. Goff was nearly intercepted on first-and-10, handed off to Jamaal Williams for no gain and then Goff was sacked. A little rust probably. No need to panic.
TWO: Defensive end Kevin Strong forced a fumble in the third quarter, dropped Devin Singletary for a 3-yard loss in the first quarter and made a few other standout plays. Impressive start with six tackles for a guy looking to make the roster after being on and off the practice squad last season. “Strong every day does something in practice that shows up. He’s an explosive player, he shows up. It was good to see him get out there and make some plays,’’ Campbell said..
THREE: Running back Craig Reynolds, who was signed on Thursday, ran in from 24 yards out for a touchdown in the fourth. He finished with six carries for 49 yards. The 25-year-old played in two games for the Jaguars in 2020. He was undrafted out of Kutztown. “He’s thick, he’s in great shape. Brad (Holmes) worked him out. We were coming off the field (Thursday after practice) and he sai, ‘This guy is in phenomenal shape, I’d like to see this guy carry it,’’’ Campbell said. Reynolds made the most of his chances.
FOUR: Linebacker Julian Okwara may have been on the field longer than any of his teammates. It seemed like it. He finished with three tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit. “We felt like it was important for him, we felt like he really needed a load. He’s a young guy who is still developing,’’ Campbell said. “We felt like it was important for him to come out and see how he responded.’’
FIVE: Quarterback David Blough came in for mop-up duty and completed 5 of 6 passes for 76 yards and led the Lions for two scoring drives — a touchdown and the late field goal.
Next up in preseason: Lions at Steelers, 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 21.