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.

 

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Detroit Lions’ 2018 draft class was impressive in its first season

Frank Ragnow leads impressive class

The old rule of thumb is that a draft class can’t truly be judged for five years.

Maybe so. But after a rookie season, much has been learned about the Detroit Lions 2018 draftees.

Basically, General Manager Bob Quinn did a great job by filling needs and looking toward the future. If everyone stays healthy, it appears that all six will be on the roster in the 2019 season.

Here’s a quick look:

FRANK RAGNOW, first round, 20th overall — The left guard started all 16 games and showed flashes of what is yet to be. He proved to be a solid first-round pick and filled a need. To his benefit he was lined up between two guys with NFL experience in left tackle Taylor Decker and center Graham Glasgow. The offensive line has work to do but Ragnow proved he deserved a starting role.

“I think Frank has a bright future,” veteran right guard T.J. Lang said. “It’s not easy to come in as a young lineman and be thrown into a starting role. The way he approaches the game, sitting in meetings and asking questions, I think I really bonded with him this year because he was so ready to learn new techniques and everything he can about defenses. He wants to be great, and as an older guy to have an opportunity to teach him a little bit, take him under my wing, was an honor. He’s a strong kid, a smart kid, a great athlete. He’s only going to get better.”

KERRYON JOHNSON, second round, 43d overall — The running back, who had two games of more than 100 rushing yards, played a huge role in getting the once-weak run game in gear. It had been an issue which is why he was drafted in the second round. He was limited to 10 games following a knee injury on Nov. 18. The good news is that it’s not a lingering issue. He said if the Lions had made the playoffs he would be ready to go. He feels bad he couldn’t play the whole season. He finished with 118 carries for 641 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

“Running back is a tough spot, but when you’re able to finish 17 (weeks), give it your all for 17, I feel like that puts your team in the best position to win,” Johnson said. “That’s what I like to do. I like to win and I like to be accountable. One way you do that is by finishing.

“I’ve just got to train harder. Obviously, what I did this past offseason wasn’t enough, so I’ve got to do more. I have more time to do more without having to prepare for the combine and all that stuff,’’ Johnson added.

TRACY WALKER, third round, 82nd overall — Defensive back is a tough position to play as a rookie in the NFL, but Walker got his feet wet on defense and was a factor on special teams. He made some highlight plays and was burned too which is all a part of the learning curve for rookie defensive backs. He played in all 16 games and grabbed his first interception in the win over Carolina.

DA’SHAWN HAND, fourth round, 114th overall —  The 6-foot-3, 297-pound rookie was the top-graded rookie interior defensive lineman in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. He said he’s just getting started and now knows where he needs to improve. “I want to be fast, like blazing speed,’’ Hand said. “I’m trying to be like one of the fastest D-linemen in the league.” His season was ended when he sprained his knee in Week 14 in the win at Arizona. In 13 games he had three sacks and 27 tackles.

His teammate, Damon “Snacks” Harrison, sees a bright future for Hand. Harrison tweeted about Hand this week: “This kid is going to be a problem for a long time for offenses. No cap.”

TYRELL CROSBY, fifth round, 153rd overall — The offensive lineman saw action at right tackle in Week 14 when Rick Wagner was injured and could not finish the game. Crosby started at the same position for Wagner the next week. He served as a backup tackle this season but could move inside to guard also. Overall he played in 10 games and did not disappoint.

NICK BAWDEN, seventh round, 237rd overall — The fullback tore his ACL in June’s minicamp and missed the entire season.

 

Detroit Lions Da’Shawn Hand claims he’s a snacks connoisseur and proves it

Flaming-hot Funyuns a favorite

ALLEN PARK — Da’Shawn Hand may be a rookie, but the Lions defensive tackle knows his snacks. In fact, he considers himself a connoisseur.

Oddly enough, his locker is next to NFL veteran Damon “Snacks” Harrison who earned his reputation over the years.

“You can ask the whole D-line, they get mad at me because I can eat. But see, I got a good figure. Hey, listen. It’s hard to come by. I ain’t saying nothing about Snacks’ (figure),’’ said Hand who is 6-foot-3 and a svelte 297 pounds, compared to the original “Snacks” who weighs 353.

Either Hand can’t narrow down his favorite snacks, or he’s looking for a sponsor.

“See it depends on what I’m in the mood for. I can always do a good fruit snack. You’ve got different types of fruit snacks. You’ve got the Welch’s, you’ve got Scooby-Doo. Then like Mott’s it just depends. Welch’s is a solid universe everybody likes that. Mott’s I’ve got to be in the mood for, I get kind of tired. then you’ve got fruit-rollups, oh man,’’ said Hand who was just getting started.

“Then Danish, you’ve got little cakes  — you’ve got oatmeal cream pies, you’ve got zebra cakes, you’ve got little strawberry shortcake rolls. There’s just endless possibilities.’’

Onto salty snacks.

“Then as far as chips I like flaming-hot stuff. So you’ve got flaming-hot Funyuns (not regular Funyuns). You get that with a nice sandwich – ooohh.”

Then the understatement.

“I like eating. You opened up something,’’ Hand said.

“You know Italian subs — instead of ham you get turkey then everything else — pepperonis and all that stuff,’’ said Hand seemed to be enjoying his snacks soliloquy.

“How about Hand sandwich? Hands-on Club?” He’s right, so many possibilities.

Don’t forget candy.

“Chocolate, I’ll do Twix and maybe a KitKat, Butterfinger, Reese’s sometimes. When it comes to candy, I LOVE candy. Especially sour stuff — sour gummy worms, sour gummy bears, strawberry sour patches those are the best type for real,’’ Hand said. “If you’ve learned something today, I highly recommend you try it.’’

We’ve also learned that Hand knows his way around the snacks aisle at the grocery store.

Five things to know about Detroit Lions rookie DE Da’Shawn Hand

Rookie has started last 3 games

ALLEN PARK — Defensive end Da’Shawn Hand’s effectiveness and time on the field has grown in the first four weeks of the season.

While the Lions are a disappointing 1-3, Hand is one of the positives so far.

The rookie has started the past three games and hit highs in snaps (48) and percentage of snaps for the defense (70 percent) in the loss at Dallas on Sunday.

Along with left guard Frank Ragnow and running back Kerryon Johnson, Hand is one of three rookies who are regular starters.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Hand and the Lions are moving on from Dallas. They play their first NFC North opponent on Sunday when they host the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers.

“He is an elite player, I think that goes without saying, everybody knows him. They’ve got a great team, it’s going to be interesting,’’ Hand said.

Five things to know about Hand:

1. Hand was a fourth-round pick out of Alabama and so far the Lions like what they see.  “I think what we saw on tape coming out of college is a lot of what we’re seeing right now with the technique. He plays with good fundamentals and pad level,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “A lot of this system is similar to what he used in college with similar, let’s call it coaching backgrounds from that aspect of it. I think the transition was pretty good for him from that standpoint. And really, it’s just been on him to really go out and improve every single week.’’

2. Hand took full advantage of his increased playing time on Sunday. He picked up his first NFL sack, getting to Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott early in the fourth quarter. Hand also forced a fumble on the Cowboys’ final drive but the ball took a Cowboys’ bounce and Prescott was able to recover it. “I just was working a move, trying to get upfield and I just hit the orner and swiped for the ball, it just took a bad bounce,’’ Hand said.

Had the Lions been able to recover the fumble perhaps they would have had a chance to hold on to and  win the game. That doesn’t weigh on Hand’s mind. “Think I’ve said before in a couple interviews, but that stuff is irrelevant thoughts to me,’’ Hand said. “You think about what-ifs then that’s all you’re relying on. If you think about irrelevant things you’re going to get irrelevant results.’’

3. He credits the leadership among the players for helping keep the right mindset. Veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois has taken a leadership role on the defensive line. “(Leadership) is really strong, older guys they definitely it’s all about turning the page, keep getting better and don’t worry about the irrelevant things,’’ Hand said.

4. Hand didn’t start in Week 1, playing 32 snaps (53 percent) in the loss to the Jets. He got his first start in Week 2 and has started the last three games. In four games he has 14 tackles and one sack.

5. Patricia likes Hand’s steady improvement. “ I think that’s the biggest thing with him in particular is that there’s been a big improvement from the spring, then to training camp, and I would say through the course of maybe the first couple weeks in training camp until we finally got to some preseason games where we could evaluate him against other talent and some other players,’’ Patricia said. “It just has continued to get better for him. I would say he’s got a long way to go. I think in general upfront we didn’t play particularly well enough all the way across the board. So, not real good (Sunday) but I think he’s working himself in the right direction.”