Lions: Jim Caldwell’s Sunday updates on Whitehead, Wick, D-line and more

Some good injury news, some bad

ALLEN PARK >> Coming off Friday night’s preseason loss to New England, the Lions didn’t practice on Sunday but instead had a walk-through.

They will get back to work at practice on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for Thursday night’s final preseason game at the Buffalo Bills.

Coach Jim Caldwell met with the media prior to the walk-through.

Six updates from Caldwell on Sunday:

— Linebacker Tahir Whitehead and tight end Cole Wick, who both left Friday’s game, will be “OK” according to Caldwell. Of course he offered no specifics.

—  The Lions lost another defensive lineman when Jordan Hill was injured on Friday and placed on injured reserve Sunday. “One of the things that everybody realizes is there are no guarantees in our game, you have to be able to adjust,’’ Caldwell said. “Sometimes those adjustments will stretch you to the limits. We do have guys who are available and will be ready to go. It’s kind of the nature of what we do. No one likes it but nevertheless we have to deal with it.’’

— The team signed defensive tackle Derrick Lott on Sunday. He spent the 2016 preseason with the Eagles and Raiders. Lott, who has not played in an NFL regular season game, was undrafted out of Chattanooga in 2015 and spent time on the practice squads with the Titans and the Tampa Bay Bucs.

— Rookie defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter, a sixth-round pick, may be an option for the defensive line rotation, but he also could be a practice squad candidate. “Still growing, still developing, still making good progress. Getting a little better every day,’’ Caldwell said. “It’s a challenging spot when you have so much going on around you in terms of handling different schemes, and looks and body types you have to deal with. But we like what he’s doing at this point. I think he’ll be up for the challenge. He’s got the right kind of attitude and he’s got physical talent.’’ Ledbetter is 6-foot-3 and listed at 275 pounds, although Caldwell said he’s put on a little weight for them.

— The Lions still have one more preseason game to determine who will be the return guy to start the season. “We’ll get a chance to look at some guys in depth. We have some guys who have done some good things for us,’’ Caldwell said. In the first three preseason games, running back Dwayne Washington, wide receiver Keshawn Martin, cornerback Jamal Agnew, wide receiver TJ Jones and wide receiver Jace Billingsley have gotten good looks.

— Punter Sam Martin hasn’t practiced since the start of training camp due to an ankle injury. Caldwell would not say if Martin has been able to punt. Kasey Redfern has filled in admirably. “Kasey has done a very, very good job overall. He’s done a nice job holding and punting,’’ Caldwell said. If Martin is not ready to go for the opener there’s a chance they could keep two punters on the roster. The coach said nothing is off the table.



Five things learned from Lions’ preseason loss to the Patriots

Super Bowl champs embarrassed Detroit’s defense

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Nothing like going against the world champion New England Patriots — even in the preseason — to get an idea where a team stands.

Following the Lions’ 30-28 preseason loss at Ford Field on Friday night, it’s easy to see the defense has plenty of work to do before the regular season starts on Sept. 10.

It’s never a good idea to spot the Patriots a 24-0 lead. Never.

Now keep in mind, it was the preseason and not everyone played, still in the first quarter the defense was embarrassed. There is no other word for it.

Five things we learned from the loss:

1. Linebacker Tahir Whitehead left in the first half with a knee injury. No word after the game on whether it’s serious. If the news is bad, the defense would take a huge hit. The linebacking group depends on Whitehead’s leadership especially with rookie Jarrad Davis starting in the middle.

2. The defense won’t face Tom Brady every week (can you imagine?), but it had to be a disappointment. Missed tackles were an issue. Just overall, the defense looked like it didn’t know what to expect. They did some game-planning for the Patriots although not as much as they would during the regular season. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said earlier in the week it would be a good test but wouldn’t be the end of the world if the Detroit defense couldn’t stop Brady and his buddies. The Patriots must not have heard that Quandre Diggs has looked good in camp because they went after him big-time.

3. Jarrad Davis was picked on by Brady. Of course he was. He may be a first-round pick and have a bright future but he’s going to make rookie mistakes until he gets adjusted to the NFL. Davis is a good leader, works hard and has earned the respect of his teammates but at the end of the day he’s still a rookie. He’s fully expected to be the starter when the season starts, but curiously enough Austin said this week that the only two definitive defensive starters are Glover Quin and Darius Slay.

4. Matthew Stafford was fine with touchdown passes to Marvin Jones and Dwayne Washington. The quarterback, entering his ninth season, was 15 of 22 for 190 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Jake Rudock seems to develop more confidence weekly (10 of 13, 113 yards, one touchdown). Golden Tate’s fumble in the Lions’ first offensive series was not the end of the world, but certainly didn’t help the offense get started.

5. The Lions’ run game was led by Ameer Abdullah (always a good sign) with 13 carries for 60 yards. Zach Zenner was a captain but didn’t carry the ball, so Dwayne Washington got plenty of work. He had seven carries for 15 yards and a rushing touchdown, along with two receptions for 26 yards and a passing touchdown. The coaches love Washington’s physicality but they need him to make better reads than he did last year as a rookie. Zenner should be a lock for the 53-man roster. Theo Riddick saw limited action with one carry for zero yards and no catches.

Five Lions to watch vs. Patriots in preseason action

Plenty of competition for starting roles on defense

Of all the preseason games, the third one is always the most crucial. As you know it’s called the dress rehearsal game since typically the starters play for at least the first half.

The Lions’ Friday night preseason game has a bit of a twist. They will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, the defending Super Bowl champs.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford had a good camp and looked fine in limited time in the first two preseason games, both wins. He’ll get a chance to stretch out on Friday night playing for a half.

Others will be fighting for starting roles and spots on the 53-man roster.

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said only safety Glover Quin and cornerback Darius Slay have nailed down starting spots. So he will watch how his defense handles the Patriots’ loaded offense.

Here are five Lions to watch:

1. Safety Miles Killebrew (in photo) is a force on special teams — the guy likes to hit — and when given the opportunity has performed well on the defense. He’s one of those guys making the big step from a rookie to second-year player. He seems to be growing, not regressing.  “I think just being around, understanding NFL football. Having an opportunity to be in our system for our year. Learn it. Being around really smart guys in terms of GQ (Glover Quin) and Tavon (Wilson) that help his development. So, I think he’s been better this preseason, obviously than he was last year,’’ defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “And we’re hoping he continues to improve because he’s still a young player who’s got a lot of upside.” He wears No. 35.

2. Nickel Quandre Diggs looks to rebound from an unsatisfactory sophomore year in 2016 after playing well as a rookie.  “I think he’s responded well. Last year was really a kind of eye-opener in terms of how he played. He didn’t play very well, and I’m sure if you asked him, he’ll tell you that,’’ Austin said. “But he’s really looked a lot more like the player that played that first year for us, really around the ball, active, physical, doing a lot of really good things. And I think he’s risen to the challenge.” He wears No. 28.

3. Linebacker Steve Longa, who was undrafted in 2016, spent most of last season on the Lions practice squad. So while he saw action in just one game, he’s familiar with the defense. He’s been one of the standouts so far. Like all the linebackers, he’ll learn to play all three positions. “Steve’s been a pleasant surprise. Runs around, physical, got a really good nose for the ball and again, that’s a good competition. I think that’s one of the areas where again, on our defense, we’ve had a lot more competition for spots. It’s not, ‘Well, you know you’ve got these five and maybe one other guy.’ I think we have a lot of guys fighting for spots and he’s one of them,’’ Austin said. “I think he’s done a really, really good job. He is a physical, get-after-it type of guy and you see that on defense. He does the same things on defense that he does on special teams. You just don’t see as much of it because he hasn’t played as many snaps.” He wears No. 54.

4. Tight end Michael Roberts, the fourth-round pick, has a shot at making the roster. “Mike Rob is learning a ton, he’s going out there, he is max effort every play. He’s getting a bunch of them right, he’s getting one or two wrong here and there, he’s correcting it and moving forward,’’ offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said “We’ve had pretty limited reps with Matthew Stafford so far this preseason, however many drives that’s been, three or four or five, I don’t know. But, at a certain point that’ll probably take place, but within the development of these guys, we want to make sure we’re putting them in the right position and putting them in a place to succeed and to improve, so that’s what we’re doing with Mike.” He wears No. 80.

5. Running back Dwayne Washington was pushed into service last year as a rookie due to injuries at the position. The coaches love his physicality but he has to work on his reads. The seventh-round pick has to earn a spot on the roster. “You’re talking about young guys going from year one to year two, getting a bunch of reps in the offseason and us seeing improvement along the way. So, we are seeing that improvement,’’ Cooter said. “He’s by no means a finished product, plenty of getting better to do, but I’m encouraged with the way he’s kind of attacked this training camp, attacked this offseason.” He wears No. 36.