Detroit Lions Stafford active against Chiefs; Slay, Amendola sidelined

It is 132nd straight start for Stafford

DETROIT — Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will get his 132nd straight start today against the Kansas City Chiefs at Ford Field.

Cornerback Darius Slay and wide receiver Danny Amendola are both inactive.

Stafford showed up on the injury report for the first time on Friday. A hip injury limited his practice on Friday. He was not on the injury list Wednesday and Thursday. His presence could not be more important with two backups just getting familiar with the Lions’ offense. David Blough and Jeff Driskel are both active which might be an indication that Stafford may not be able to go the distance.

Slay, who injured a hamstring last Sunday, was limited in practice all week and was also listed as questionable. The defense  will miss Slay going up against quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense which averages 487 yards per game (second best in the NFL).

Amendola was limited in practice all week after a chest injury sustained in last Sunday’s win at Philadelphia. The Lions have plenty of offensive weapons, but certainly Amendola would’ve been an added benefit

Defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand (elbow) was listed as questionable and is out.

Defensive tackle Mike Daniels (foot) was listed as out on Friday.

Other Lions inactives: RB Paul Perkins, G Beau Benzschawel and OL Oday Aboushi.

 

Advertisements

Five things to watch as Detroit Lions face Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

After three weeks, the undefeated Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are one of the best stories in the NFL.

Mahomes, 2018’s NFL MVP, picked up where he left off in January. Expectations are high in Kansas City (trust me, I have family there), actually they are sky-high.

While the Detroit Lions are also undefeated (2-0-1) and in first place in the NFC North, many still just don’t know what to make of this bunch that finished last season 6-10.

On paper, all looks good for the Lions, but because of their blemished history (I’m being nice) they don’t get the benefit of the doubt. That will be earned when they win consistently.

Can they beat the 3-0 Chiefs? Absolutely. It’s the NFL where anything can happen. In most games it’s a handful of plays that are the difference between winning and losing. It would be one of the biggest wins in recent Lions’ history.

Will they beat the Chiefs? Kansas City is a 6.5-point favorite. The Lions would need to play a nearly perfect game.

This could be a big statement game even if coach Matt Patricia says he doesn’t look at it that way.

“Every week is important. There’s nothing more to that. Just our biggest game is this game because it’s our next game. We’ll always just kind of try to keep it that perspective so that – we just want to go out and perform well. That’s the bottom line,’’ Patricia said. “Everybody is good in the NFL. Each team presents different challenges, each team has different strengths and weakness, and the challenge is to try to rise to the occasion of handling all of it every single week and whatever presents itself. That’s really it. It’s September, still early. We’re just trying to get better.”

Five things to watch against the Chiefs:

1. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is dangerous wherever his on the field. When Patricia is asked whether he would prefer Mahomes in or out of the pocket, he said: “Probably neither. I think right now what you’re seeing on tape is you’re seeing him extremely efficient – on the sideline is probably where I’d like to see him the most. He’s just really good, he’s a really good young player. This guy is – every single play it is extremely dangerous. He can get that thing down field. He does a great job too with just controlling – there is an element to this offense that is definitely a ball control passing game, going back to kind of the West Coast system which Andy (Reid) has obviously, his background, but he’s incorporated a lot of the vertical stretch too and then mixed in the spread offense that you see a lot in college. He’s kind of adapted all that for his guys. He does great with the controlled passing game, just kind of taking those yardages that you’ll give him and then being real patient and all of a sudden he’s going to launch one down field.’’In other words, the Lions’ defense will have its hands full.

2. Matthew Stafford (hip) was listed on Friday’s injury report as questionable. Took everyone by surprise but he is expected to start. He’s off to a solid start this season with six touchdowns, two interceptions and a 62.6 completion percentage. He’s gotten some help with four receivers who have each had more than 100 yards in a game. But perhaps the key is that he has not been sacked in two straight games which is the first time that’s happened since the first two games of the 2011 season. “I mean obviously the guys up front are doing a great job. I think (Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell) is doing a great job of moving me around, getting the ball out quick, then I get a chance to hold the ball. It’s a little bit of everything, keeping the defense guessing. It’s a team effort when you have no sacks,’’ Stafford said. “You’re not going to have a perfect pocket every time. Guys are going to do some outstanding things, whether it’s a chip or a running back picking up a blitzer. I’m trying to get the ball out in a timely fashion, our guys are doing a great job of getting open. It all kind of plays together.”

3. Last week Tracy Walker and the secondary held Eagles tight end Zach Ertz to 4 catches for 64 yards — with only one of those receptions in the second half. On this week’s agenda is tight end Travis Kelce. “Tracy did a good job last week. He really did. He played well. Technique – fundamentally he played well. Every week in this league is a new week and there’s no way of predicting exactly how things will go,’’ defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said. He also wouldn’t be specific if Walker will draw the coverage on Kelce. Patricia said there’s a bunch of good tight ends in the NFL and the Lions will face several of them. 

4. The Lions run game is still a work in progress, averaging about 99 yards per game. Kerryon Johnson is carrying the load but his per carry average is just 2.6 yards (48 carries, 116 yards). “We’ve actually had some really nice blocked plays. What I really feel like is that we’re just one guy away. I feel like there has been a lot of instances where we’ve had 10 out of 11 doing the thing that we need them to do, so if we can just get that one last little piece fit in there, then it’s going to start going,’’ Bevell said. “We’ve had a really good opportunity to just consistently work on it, and I think we’re improving each and every week. I like the direction that it’s headed. I think you can even see it last week. There were some decent sized gains to be had out there, but we still have to clean up some of the little details.”

5. Not a done deal, but cornerback Darius Slay could get the nod on Sunday after injuring his hamstring at Philadelphia. The Pro Bowl cornerback been limited at practice and is officially questionable this week but appears to be moving well. Wide receiver Danny Amendola (chest) is also questionable. After sitting Wednesday and Thursday he was limited in practice on Friday. Defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand (elbow) also questionable. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels is out 

PREDICTION: Lions 27, Chiefs 24 (This was a tough pick. Ultimately believe home-field advantage could tilt it Detroit’s way.)

 

 

Five things to know about Detroit Lions’ 27-24 win at Philadelphia Eagles

When the Eagles blocked a Matt Prater field goal attempt, with less than 2 minutes left it could have been really bad news for the Detroit Lions.

After a penalty, Philadelphia had the ball at midfield with 1:40 remaining. Plenty of time to score a touchdown to win or a field goal for the tie. But the Lions’ defense held on and Detroit left the City of Brotherly Love with a 27-24 win and a 2-0-1 record on the season.

NFL games are typically won due to a handful of plays. This was no different.

Perhaps Matthew Stafford’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones Jr. early in the fourth to grab a 27-17 lead was key.

Another key pass play was on third-and-11 when Stafford connected with Danny Amendola for 15 yards and a first down later in the fourth.

Then, of course, the defense in the fourth quarter came up big.

Five things to know about the win:

1. Matthew Stafford was kept clean. For the second straight week, the offensive line stepped up and he was not sacked. He brought cookies to the offensive line after last week’s performance, maybe it was just the ticket. Taylor Decker returned at left tackle. Stafford was pressured, but not sacked. His numbers were fine (18-of-32, 201 yards, 1 TD) not spectacular, but a win is a win. He missed a throw on third-and-8 with 3:45 remaining when he underthrew Jones. He had more time than he thought. He’ll be the first to admit that error.

2. Jamal Agnew, who was benched the previous week after a fumble on a return, lined up to return the kickoff on the Lions’ first possession. Then he ran down the left sideline 100 yards for a touchdown. The offense hadn’t taken the field and the Lions had a 7-3 lead. Special teams turned things around after a bad outing the week before. Other than one short punt by Sam Martin and allowing the late blocked field goal, they played well. 

3. Jarrad Davis returned and his presence was noticeable on defense. The linebacker rotated in and out early in his first game of the season. He went out once with a foot injury but before Twitter could explode with his absence, he was back on the field. No interceptions against Carson Wentz, but Darius Slay recovered a fumble and returned it 28 yards to the Eagles’ 22. Slay left the game and didn’t return with a hamstring after that play. It’s unknown how serious it is. The defense forced three fumbles. The Eagles had five drops which had something to do with the defensive pressure. The Lions’ defense also sacked Wentz three times — Chrtistian Jones, Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Trey Flowers came up big. Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, their biggest offensive threat, had six catches for 64 yards but no touchdowns.

4. Quietly wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., had a standout game with six catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. He was one of eight pass catchers found by Stafford. Kenny Golladay was targeted 8 times but only came up with 2 catches. Pedestrian numbers for the big guy but it wasn’t all on him, Stafford shared part of the blame there. 

5. The offense, under coordinator Darrell Bevell, stayed aggressive just like they did late in the win over the Chargers the previous week. It’s a good sign of things to come with this new offense. It’s a balanced attack with the run game coming around. Kerryon Johnson had 20 carries for 36 yards and a rushing touchdown, while J.D. McKissic had just one carry but it was for 44 yards.

UP NEXT: Next Sunday the Lions host Patrick Mahomes and the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) at Ford Field. The Chiefs beat the Ravens 33-28 Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay’s huge interception seals win over Chargers

DETROIT — Darius Slay rated it his second-best interception ever.

By going up and pulling the football away from Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen in the end zone with 1:10 left, Slay sealed the 13-10 win for the Detroit Lions.

Allen finished with eight catches for 98 yards, many of those yards coming with Slay covering him. 

“Oh man, he’s top five. He’s one of the best out here, best in the game. We were battling – back-and-forth, back-and-forth. (He) caught a couple passes, I made a couple break-ups. We know each other personally. We came out together,’’ Slay said. “It was a good battle. Good, friendly battle. We already knew what time it was. I was looking forward to this matchup just as much as he was. Now I just wish him the best the rest of this season.”

When he saw the ball coming into the end zone on that big play, Slay said, “That sh– mine, I saw that sh–, I said, ‘Oh this sh– mine.’ I’ve got to have that. He almost knocked it out but I got good hands, I’m a receiver.’’ 

He wasn’t surprised that quarterback Philip Rivers went to Allen on that third-and-19 play. 

“That’s his go-to guy, that’s his man. If I’m the quarterback I’m throwing to him too, I don’t care if he’s double-covered or triple-covered that’s my guy and I’m going to make sure to see if he can make a play. I just made one more play than he did,” Slay said.

The Lions defense held the Chargers scoreless in the second half.

“To hold them under 10 points is good. Man, Philip is an awesome quarterback, great  competitor. Before the game he sat there and told me, ‘Slay, it’s going to be early and often.’ So he already let me know it was going to be a competitive day,’’ Slay said. “I was prepared for it, he was prepared for it — I just made one more play at the end.’’

It wasn’t a perfect game for Slay. He was called for two defensive holding penalties in the second quarter (one was declined) and a big pass interference call in the third quarter in the end zone going up against Allen. He just had to get over those calls and he did.

 “I have to, because if I don’t, if I lose myself, I’m failing the team. I can’t do that. I have to stay on my grind, stay competing, because these boys look up to me and expect a lot out of me. I just try to go out and give them what I got,’’ Slay said.

A week earlier it looked like the defense let up in the fourth quarter trying (and failing) to hold onto a fourth-quarter lead at Arizona.

It was all different at Ford Field on Sunday.

“Last week we didn’t play all four quarters, but this week we did,’’ Slay said. “That’s why we got it done.’’

Detroit Lions’ aggressive play pays off with a 13-10 win over Chargers

Matthew Stafford explains no holding back approach

DETROIT — If you ask Matthew Stafford, the Lions were confident in themselves even through the ups and downs of Sunday’s game. 

The Detroit Lions made mistakes on offense, defense and it seems especially on special teams. After a tough tie a week ago, they hung in there on Sunday and beat the Los Angeles Chargers, 13-10 at Ford Field.

It was truly September football.

“We put a ton of work in, that’s what we think back on, that’s what we put our trust in, we put the work in,’’ Stafford said afterward.

“This is, Matty P likes to say all the time, it’s September football. There’s some ugly stuff out there, all sides of the ball — offense, defense, and special teams — you’ve got to keep fighting, keep pushing and be great in situational and our ‘D’ was great in situational getting a pick to end the game. And we were able to convert a third-down, a gotta have it third-down, to make sure we don’t have to punt it back.

“Very rarely in September is the game super clean and everybody is a well-oiled machine,’’ Stafford said. “Sometimes the games are a little ugly, but we’ll take a win.’’

The game-winning touchdown came midway through the fourth quarter on a 31-yard pass from Stafford to Kenny Golladay.

“We put a little double-post concept, kind of on a single-high safety, the safety took the inside one and Kenny did a good enough job to use his big body to wall the corner off and I tried to shoot one in there and it ended up in a good spot,” Stafford said.

Cornerback Darius Slay, matched up most of the day with wide receiver Keenan Allen, got beat often. But when it mattered the most he lived up to his name — Big Play Slay.

With 1:10 left and the Lions holding onto the 3-point lead, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws a 28-yard pass into the end zone for Allen, but Slay was able to nab the interception.

Then the Lions got the ball back with 1:03 left and on third down they needed to convert to keep the ball away from the Chargers.

Stafford threw a 7-yard pass to tight end Jesse James to convert. 

“It was sweet, I loved it,’’ Stafford said. “Broke the huddle quick, caught them sleeping. It was the last thing on my mind when (Darrell Bevell) called it, it came into my helmet and I was like, ‘This is going to be awesome.’ I was just happy Jesse did enough just to get the first down, it was tough running at the third, nothing better than not having to punt it back.’’

Bevell, the new offensive coordinator, had enough trust to call that pass play even though Stafford had thrown a pair of interceptions in the second half.

“Bev’s an aggressive guy, I’m an aggressive player. When I’m out there, we work so hard, go trust yourself out there, you think something is going to work, go do it,’’ Stafford said.

“The one pick I threw in the end zone I probably — I’d like to throw it a little better — but I’m throwing that ball probably 10 times out of 10. That’s Kenny (Golladay) one-on-one with a corner, that’s a great shot. It didn’t work out, it ended up as a turnover and bad play for our team, but I’m putting that up there I’m aggressive I’m going to keep giving our guys chances because they’re great players.

“The second one obviously I can’t turn that ball over. There’s a running back sitting in the flat for a 15-yard gain.I got a little too aggressive there, but I think just that rubs off, confidence,’’ Stafford said.

It was just Stafford’s second game with Bevell running the show and improvements could be seen from the previous week.

“I go into every game really comfortable, I know what he’s going to call, now I’m learning more and more when he’s going to call it,’’ Stafford said. “That just comes with experience, but I’ve had a lot of fun playing in this system for twp games. I have a lot to clean up, can obviously play better, but I’m enjoying it.’’

Spoken like a true NFL gunslinger with a confident coach making the calls

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.

 

 

Lions Darius Slay watches 1st day of training camp from sidelines

ALLEN PARK — Darius Slay didn’t want to talk about his hold-out during the offseason program.

No matter from which angle the question was asked on Thursday, “next question” was his reply.

The Detroit Lions Pro Bowl cornerback did report to training camp on Wednesday, but was placed on the non-football injury list along with Damon “Snacks” Harrison, another veteran hold-out. Neither participated in the first day of camp on Thursday.

Coach Matt Patricia said it was just a matter of conditioning after being away from football for so long.

Slay has two years remaining on his contract which will pay him $12 million this year and $10 million in 2020.

One exchange went like this:

Reporter: Are you content with your current deal?

Slay: What do you think?

Reporter: I’ve been pretty vocal saying I think you’re underpaid but my opinion doesn’t …

Slay: Everybody in the world knows.

While he hasn’t been at the practice facility he has not lost touch with his teammates.

“It was cool, I was here in Detroit. Guys came over the house, hung out, chilled, cooked them crab legs,’’ Slay said. “It’s a business so it’s all good.

No matter his contract situation he said they’re his guys, his brothers.

“Everybody knows it’s a business,’’ said Slay who is entering his seventh season.

He said he’s happy the Lions signed a few veteran cornerbacks like Justin Coleman, Rashaan Melvin and Marcus Cooper.

“Oh, they’re great guys. It’s a little less pressure on my shoulders. This is really my first year stepping into the role of a leader, leader, leader with GQ (Glover Quin) not being here (which I miss so much, it’s hard to walk on the field without my dog). He’s chilling. Other than that it’s been good,’’ Slay said.

He said that the contract situation will not affect his play on the field.

“I’m going to do out there to dominate,’’ Slay said. “So I play for the name on the back of my jersey and this organization and my teammates. So ain’t going to never stop me from what I’m doing on the field.’’

He has set goals for himself but said he’s not worried about interceptions. He had three last season after pulling in eight to lead the league in 2018.

“That will come, I’m not stressing on that …’’ Slay said.

Instead he wants to step up his leadership since Quin has retired.

“Be a better leader, be more vocal with the guys, just helping these guys be better than I am that’s my goal,’’ Slay said. “Try to get these guys Teez (Tabor), (Jamal) Agnew, the young corners that just came in I want them to be a lot better than what I did. That’s my goal.’’