Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, Frank Ragnow injuries not season-ending

Jarrad Davis and Frank Ragnow did not suffer season-ending injuries in the Detroit Lions’ preseason loss to the Bills on Friday night.

Lions coach Matt Patricia gave the update during a conference call on Saturday afternoon. 

He said neither one will play in the final preseason game at Cleveland on Thursday, but wouldn’t put a timetable on their returns. He also said neither one is in the category to be placed on injured reserve to return.

“The one great thing about these two guys is they have tremendous work ethic, we know they’re going to be working as hard as they can to get back as soon as possible,’’ Patricia said.

Patricia offered no specifics on the injuries.

Davis, the starting middle linebacker, was injured on the second snap of the game. And eventually carted off to the locker room from the sidelines. 

“Obviously J.D. does a tremendous job inside the building, outside the building, he just loves football. It’s 24/7 with him. He loves to study it, he loves to learn,’’ Patricia said. 

Ragnow, the starting center, went down about midway through the second quarter. He was helped off the field and it appeared he could not put weight on his right leg.

The first-round pick in 2018 started at left guard last season but moved to center during the offseason. 

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UPDATED: Lions Jarrad Davis, Frank Ragnow injured in preseason loss to Bills

DETROIT — Nothing mattered when the game was over except that the Detroit Lions could have lost two starters for the season.

The Bills won 24-20 on Friday night at Ford Field, but that was almost inconsequential. 

Starting middle linebacker Jarrad Davis went down on the second snap of the game. It appears to be a right ankle injury. He was helped to the sideline and then carted off to the locker room. Never a good sign.

Davis had worked hard in the offseason to add 15 pounds of muscle to his frame. It appeared he was headed for a breakout season in his third year. 

Ragnow, a first-round pick in 2018 who moved to center in the offseason, went down midway through the second quarter. Medical personnel helped him off the field. He could not put weight on his right leg. No stopping at the bench, they helped him to the locker room immediately.

“We lost a couple guys early in the game, we have to grind through this here and through tomorrow and find out what’s going on,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “With J.D. and Frank there’s nothing really to report right now, we’ll see what it looks like tomorrow and go through the normal procedures the day after the game to see what that looks like and go from there.’’

He offered no specifics on the injuries.

Rookie Jahlani Tavai would be the likely replacement for Davis if he’s out. After Davis went down it was Tavai and Jalen Reeves-Maybin lining up in the 3-4.

On the offensive line, Graham Glasgow moved back to center after Ragnow went out. Glasgow started Friday night at right guard, but was at center last season. Joe Dahl started at left guard. Kenny Wiggins, who started 10 games at right guard in 2018, could be the top option at right guard. 

“We’ve got to keep pushing forward as far as getting ready to go for us the big thing is we have to compete, the competition is still wide open and we’ve got to go out and guys have to make the most of their opportunities and we’ve got to continue to get better,’’ Patricia said.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions) 

Quarterback Matthew Stafford saw his first preseason action, playing into the second quarter. 

“It was good, had some fun, I love playing. I don’t care what the situation is. We practice hard, I want to go out there and play,’’ Stafford said. “It was good to go out there and operate. Some things to clean up on tape, some really good things we did but some things we have to clean up for sure and we’ll make sure we do that.’’

He was 12-of-19 for 137 yards and one touchdown. He appeared to escaped unscathed.

“It’s tough to judge where (the offense) is, where it’s going to be. I just know we’re always trying to be better,’’ Stafford said. “I think we made some explosive plays which was good. A few too many mistakes — stalled out in the red zone twice. One to Marv (Jones) I’d like back, just didn’t see it clear enough and obviously the fourth down we went for and didn’t get it. Those are two that you’d like to have back, but I was proud of the way the guys fought, our tempo was great, thought we ran the ball pretty efficiently, struggled a little early on, but did a nice job on the pass game and made some plays.’’

Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson, a first-round pick, was targeted four times and came down with three catches for 52 yards, including a 32-yard gain. He and Stafford have connected well throughout training camp.

“It’s a lot of what you’ve seen in practice,’’ Stafford said.

Detroit Lions camp: Kenny Wiggins on O-line competition, facing Mike Daniels

 ALLEN PARK — Guard Kenny Wiggins, for one, is happy to have Mike Daniels as a newcomer on the Detroit Lions roster.

The Lions announced on Saturday that they have signed the veteran Pro Bowl defensive end who was released by the Green Bay Packers before camp.

Wiggins, who is battling for a starting role at guard, vividly remembers the first time he faced Daniels.

“My third start ever at Green Bay when I was with the Chargers. He gave me a little fit, we ran 93 plays that game, which is a lot, and a lot of them were passes,’’ Wiggins said. “That was fun. No sacks though.’’

Daniels will add to a formidable defensive line that includes Damon “Snacks” Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, Trey Flowers, Da’Shawn Hand and Romeo Okwara.

Wiggins said they should have some good battles at camp between the offensive and defensive lines.

“It’s going to make us better, it’s only going to make the whole team better too,’’ Wiggins said. “I would say the games are won up front. Iron sharpens iron. So whoever comes out on top one day, the next day we’re going to get better, we’re going to come out and get better and be better as a total unit.’’

Wiggins started 10 games at right guard for the Lions last season when T.J. Lang was injured. With Frank Ragnow moved to center from left guard and Lang retired both guard spots are up for grabs in camp. Graham Glasgow and and Joe Dahl are also in the mix along with veteran Oday Aboushi.

“We have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football and all of us have great depth and that’s a good thing to have,’’ Wiggins said. “Whoever gets the nod — it’s up in the air right now so who knows — we’re just out here competing trying to get better.’’

Saturday was the third day of camp, but the first day in pads 

“Once the pads come on that’s when camp starts for me, just out in pajamas before then,’’ Wiggins said. “This is camp now.”

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’ offensive line plays best game in win over Patriots

Run game exploded; Stafford sacked just once

ALLEN PARK — Without a smart and strong offensive line, the Lions run game was going nowhere this season.

The O-line played its best game early this season in the 26-10 win over the Patriots on Sunday night at Ford Field.

The Lions rushed for 159 yards and rookie Kerryon Johnson became the first Lions player to reach 100 yards in a game since Reggie Bush scampered for 117 yards on Nov. 28, 2013.

“That’s obviously a critical part of every football game, I think (the line) did a great job up front, definitely very difficult against that defense and the multiple looks they’ll give you,’’ coach Matt Patricia said on Monday. “They were spinning the dial pretty good last night with a couple different looks — four-man rushes, five-man looks, six-man looks and I think those guys did a great job up font of recognizing that stuff, getting on the same page, executing their blocks well. There were a couple plays they could have done better, but I thought we had good movement at the line of scrimmage which is most important.’’

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Pro Football Focus’ analysis of the line: “(They) performed exceptionally well against New England. Not a single starting lineman graded below a 65 and three of them graded at 70 or better.’’

Ragnow, who allowed seven pressures the previous week to the 49ers, came back with a “dominant performance.” He didn’t allow a single pressure against the Patriots, per Pro Football Focus.

The Lions O-line features two first-round picks — Taylor Decker (2016) and Frank Ragnow, a rookie. Also center Graham Glasgow was a third-round pick in 2016.

Right guard T.J. Lang returned after missing the previous game with a back injury. Lang, who signed as a free agent in 2017, proved he’s still got something in the tank because the line was more effective with him than the previous week with Kenny Wiggins.

Right tackle Rick Wagner, who was also signed as a free agent in 2017,  quietly had a good game.

Not only did they open lanes for the running backs, they also gave Matthew Stafford plenty of time in the pocket. It’s possible more time than he’s ever had consistently for four quarters. He was sacked just once.

Immediately after the game, Stafford couldn’t say enough about the line’s play.

Stafford has been sacked on just 2.2 percent of pass attempts (3/138) this season which is the best in the NFL. The league average is 6.6 percent, per Josh Norris of Rotoworld.

Detroit Lions make cuts, release initial 53-man roster

Changes will likely be made this weekend

A few surprises were included when the Lions released their list of roster cuts on Saturday to get down to an initial 53-man roster. Really, though no shockers among those no longer on the team. A few have a chance of being brought back for the practice squad but first them must clear waivers by noon on Sunday.

Here’s a look at the initial 53-man Lions roster. This will likely change through the weekend, next week and, in fact, through much of the season.

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks (2): Matthew Stafford and Matt Cassel

Analysis: Jake Rudock was the odd man out. If he clears waivers, he could be brought back on the practice squad. This move was pretty much guaranteed when Cassel was signed in the spring.

Wide receivers (6): Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay, T.J. Jones, Bradley Marquez and Brandon Powell.

Analysis: A little surprised to see six wide receivers on the roster, but can’t argue with the choices. Rookie Brandon Powell was a standout in camp and the preseason. Bradley Marquez quietly earned his spot on the roster. Jace Billingsley and Chris Lacy were waived with Andy Jones placed on PUP.

Tight ends (4): Luke Willson, Hakeem Valles, Michael Roberts and Levine Toilolo.

Analysis: It became clear in camp that Valles belonged on the roster in his third year, his first with the Lions. Roberts didn’t get much opportunity in his rookie season last year. He needs to take a step forward and make the most of his chances.

Running backs (5): Kerryon Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick. Ameer Abdullah and FB Nick Bellore.

Analysis: Dwayne Washington was waived after struggled with a toe injury throughout camp. Zach Zenner, who injured his back in the final preseason game, was placed on injured reserve. Who will get the most work? Depends on the game and individual performance. Johnson, the second-round pick, could be something special but give him a little time.

Offensive line (10): Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Graham Glasgow, T.J. Lang, Rick Wagner, rookie Tyrell Crosby, Kenny Wiggins, Joe Dahl, Brian Mihalik and Leo Koloamatangi.

Analysis: Good depth here with 10. Only seven are active on game days. Tyrell Crosby has been effective enough to make the roster as a rookie. Koloamatangi spent last season on the practice squad in Detroit and obviously learned along the way. If the starting five stay healthy, this line should be improved over last season.

DEFENSE

Defensive line (7): Ziggy Ansah, A’Shawn Robinson, Sylvester Williams, Anthony Zettel, Kerry Hyder, Da’Shawn Hand and Ricky Jean Francois.

Analysis: Seven a low number, although it could change. Also, this is a new defense scheme and the numbers reflect that. Can this group pass rush better than they did in preseason games? That is perhaps the biggest question on defense. Francois has stepped up as a veteran leader which has been a missing ingredient since Haloti Ngata’s departure.

Linebackers (7): Jarrad Davis, Devon Kennard, Eli Harold, Christian Jones, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Miles Killebrew and Trevor Bates.

Analysis: Harold was a late addition who could prove to be one of Bob Quinn’s better August moves. Killebrew made the move from safety and Patricia has made no secret that he loves his hard-hitting no matter where he is on the field.

Defensive backs (9): Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson, Quandre Diggs, Teez Tabor, Jamal Agnew, Charles Washington and Tracey Walker.

Analysis: DeShawn Shead was surprisingly waived. He was expected to vie for a starting role but a back injury held him back. Still, they could have found a way to keep him around. Washington’s play on special teams last year, helped him stay around this year. Third-round pick Tracey Walker has been impressive since the offseason.

Special teams (3): Matt Prater, Sam Martin and Don Muhlbach.

Analysis: Martin had a rough year last year coming back from a foot injury but he’s looked fine so far. Ryan Santoso got some film in the preseason game which is the best he could hope for.

The cuts:

RELEASED (VESTED VETERANS)

LB Jonathan Freeny, C Wesley Johnson, TE Sean McGrath and CB DeShawn Shead.

WAIVED

RB Dwayne Washington, DE Alex Barrett, WR Jace Billingsley, LB Freddie Bishop, WR Dontez Ford, CB Mike Ford, CB Chris Jones, WR Chris Lacy, DT Jeremiah Ledbetter, S Rolan Milligan, QB Jake Rudock, LB Darnell Sankey, P Ryan Santoso and T Dan Skipper.

PLACED ON RESERVE/INJURED

RB Zach Zenner

PLACED ON RESERVE/PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM

WR Andy Jones

TRADED

Traded T Corey Robinson to the Carolina Panthers for an undisclosed future draft selection.

WAIVED FROM RESERVE/INJURED

DT Toby Johnson

Five reasons the Detroit Lions offensive line will improve this season

Frank Ragnow impressive so far

The offensive line has been the focus of GM Bob Quinn since he arrived in Detroit. His drafts and free agent signings could see a payoff this season.

Last year injuries were a factor throughout the season. So far in training camp, health is not an issue.

Obviously strong play by the line is crucial to get the run game on track after last season when the Lions averaged a measly  3.4 yards per carry and just 76.3 rushing yards per game ranking them at the bottom of the NFL.

It looks like the starting lineup will be left tackle Taylor Decker, left guard Frank Ragnow, center Graham Glasgow, right guard T.J. Land and right tackle Rick Wagner.

After four days of training camp, here are five reasons the offensive line will be better this year:

1. The addition of first-round pick Frank Ragnow  (in photo) looks to be huge. Look for him to start at left guard where he has taken most of his reps since OTAs. He did get some work in at center on Monday. That’s likely to give the line more flexibility in case of injury. It is certainly not because he hasn’t played well at left guard. His domination there stood out big-time on the first day of pads on Sunday. He said he’s living his dream and working hard each day to learn.

2. Decker played in only the final eight games last year after suffering a torn labrum in June 2017. The Lions didn’t have much time to find a replacement and really no one could fill Decker’s shoes. He’s back, excited to go and will be ready from the get-go. He won’t talk about last year but is pumped to be on the field in training camp this year. No one is probably happier than Matthew Stafford who was sacked 47 times last season.

3. Continuity is key to the offensive line. Of all the position groups the line needs consistency to play well. This was a huge issue in 2017. Due to injuries the line had 10 different looks in 16 games. It wasn’t just Decker who was out. Graham Glasgow was the only starting offensive lineman to play every game. There is no telling what may happen in the next several weeks or months, but at this point everyone is healthy. That includes right guard T.J. Lang who was coming off hip surgery last season.

4. Glasgow looks to be the starting center. He started last season at left guard but started six games at center giving him invaluable experience at the position. He and Stafford have a better comfort level after last season.

5. Depth is key because injuries happen. The Lions added experience on the line by signing free agents — guard Kenny Wiggins and center Wesley Johnson. Wiggins has played in 45 games the past five seasons for the Chargers where he started all 16 games at right guard  in 2017. Johnson has started 24 games in the past three seasons for the Jets including 15 starts at center in 2017. Brian Mihalik, who played in 15 games and started two for the Lions last year, and Corey Robinson, who played in eight games in 2017 with five starts, return as backup tackles. Also, fifth-round pick Tyrell Crosby, who played left tackle at Oregon, is available although he might land on the practice squad with so many veterans ahead of him on the depth chart.