Lions: Ziggy Ansah, Theo Riddick return today at Vikings; Abdullah inactive

Slay active despite limited practice Friday

He’s back. Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah is active today in Minnesota in a key NFC North game against the Vikings.

Ansah was injured his shoulder in the season opening loss to the Jets and has not played a snap since then, missing six games. He has practiced on a limited basis for several weeks and, once again, was listed on Friday’s injury report at questionable for today.

Running back Theo Riddick, who has missed the last two games with an injured knee, also returns. Look for Riddick, who can line up in the slot, to help fill the gap left after Golden Tate was traded to the Eagles.

Cornerback Darius Slay, who showed up on Friday’s injury report, is active which is huge. The defense will have its hands full with the Vikings offense and it’d be a tougher road without Slay.

Right guard T.J. Lang (hip) who was limited in practice all week will also be active.

Ameer Abdullah, who fumbled on a return last week, is healthy but inactive

Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (neck/toe) will be inactive.

Other Lions’ inactives: Offensive lineman Joe Dahl, DE Eric Lee, OL Andrew Donnal, LB Kelvin Sheppard and DE Kerry Hyder.

Inactives for the Vikings include wide receiver Stefon Diggs, RB Roc Thomas, safety Anndrew Sendejo, LB Anthony Barr, guard Tom Compton and DE Tayshaun Bower.

The Lions (3-4) could use a win against the Vikings (4-3-1) to stay in the hunt in the NFC North.

 

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Lions players react to trade that sent Golden Tate to the Eagles

He was popular teammate, but they are moving on

ALLEN PARK — It was the first day post-Golden.

With wide receiver Golden Tate traded to the Eagles on Tuesday, the Lions went through their first practice and day of work without him on Wednesday preparing to play at the Vikings on Sunday.

Tate led the Lions in receiving yards (527) and catches (44) and also had three touchdowns.

“”There are a lot of difficult decisions that are made in the NFL multiple times during the course of the year. Yesterday was one of them,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “From our process, we try to evaluate everything the best we can and try to make the best decision we can as we move forward, not only for our immediate but also our long term.’’

Tate’s former teammates were obviously sad to see him go, but they can’t dwell on what could have been, they have to prepare for Sunday. They are not throwing in the tall. They have the same goal — to win the NFC North.

Player reaction to the trade:

— Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr.: “Obviously he’s a great friend, a great teammates, a great player here and, you know, it’s the NFL, he’s somewhere else and this is a week we have to prepare for a tough opponent, can’t really harp on it. He’s a great friend. We just have to do what we do, go out there everyday in practice, get on the details as much as we can and get out there and make plays for the team. We have TJ Jones and (Brandon) Powell obviously they’re going to get a little bit of playing time. Everybody has to stay the course, whatever is called. We’ll work hard during the week like we have been and it’s the next man up. I’m sure we’re going to do good. TJ has had some great minutes for us over the years, obviously he’s like our Swiss Army knife, he knows all the plays we just go out there and keep doing what we’re doing.’’

— Safety Glover Quin: “You play this game long enough you see all types of crazy stuff, you see things happen each and every day, it’s a part of the business. As players you learn to go out and play because at the end of the day that’s what you have to go out and do. Obviously Golden was great for us, great in the locker room, in the community, on the team, fun teammate, made a lot of big plays for us. But they made a move and, at the end of the day, like I always say I’m just a player, my job is to go out there and play so that’s what I try to focus on. I wish Golden good luck and I’m pretty sure he’s going to go out there and be Golden. That’s who he is. We can’t let that stop us from going out there and trying to achieve our ultimate goal which is win football games.’’

— Wide receiver TJ Jones: We hate to see him go, we love him. I’ve been with him for four and a half years, we definitely built up a rapport and friendship on and off the field just like a lot of the other guys have. We hate to see him go, wish him nothing but the best. But the reality of it is we had to come in and attack the new plan today. … I think we’re all going to step up. I think there’s a lot of responsibility to be spread out among everyone on the offense, it’s up to us to handle it I guess. Take your responsibility, your part, whatever your role and do it to the best of your ability. I learned a lot (from Tate), coming in as a rookie and he was in his fifth year in the NFL and having four or five years together — there wasn’t a time when I wasn’t asking him something whether it was on the field, off the field, recovery or day-to-day life of becoming a pro.’’

— Left tackle Taylor Decker: “It’s sad to see him go personally, he was a friend, obviously a great player, great teammate, great for this community. We’re going to wish him the best of luck moving forward we have a big divisional opponent so we can’t dwell on that. Wish him the best of luck and obviously not happy to see him go. He was absolutely a very good player for us but we have plenty of good players in this locker room.’’

Lions Matt Patricia offers insights on Golden Tate trade, moving forward

It will take a team effort to replace leading WR

ALLEN PARK — Matt Patricia said he was open with the team about the trade of Golden Tate to the Eagles. The Lions coach talked to his players before their first practice on Wednesday minus Tate, their leading receiver.

“The biggest point for me is to make sure everybody understands this also shows a lot of confidence in the people that are in that room,’’ Patricia said. “There are great players in that room and there are a lot of them. There’s a lot of guys who have opportunities to make plays and go out there and play at a high level. The biggest thing for us is we have to turn the page and be ready to go. If we spend all Wednesday talking about this, Minnesota is getting ready to kick the ball off at 1 o’clock on Sunday, whether we’re there or not. We better show up ready to go.’’

Patricia admitted it wasn’t an easy decision. Detroit got a third-round pick in exchange for giving away their leading receiver (44 catches, 517 yards, three touchdowns).

The Lions (3-4) are still in the thick of the NFC North race and face the Vikings (4-3-1) on Sunday in a big divisional game in Minnesota. Then the Lions had to Chicago (4-3)  on Nov. 11.

“The decisions are not easy. It’s more than just players, it’s relationships, it’s friendships, it’s working together for a long time,’’ Patricia said. “I talked to Golden at length yesterday, I talked to him last night. I wanted to make sure he was alright moving forward. I know he’s going to a good place with people who will take good care of him.’’

No one on the roster currently has the same talents as Tate has so it’s going to take some adjustment on the offense. Along with Marvin Jones Jr. (26 catches for 387 yards, five touchdowns) and Kenny Golladay (30 catches for 477 yards, three touchdowns), the other wide receivers on the roster are TJ Jones (3 catches, 36 yards) and rookie Brandon Powell who has only played on special teams. Running back Theo Riddick, who has missed two games with a knee injury, can line up in the slot.

“You never try to walk in and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to replace this guy with this.’ It’s a team effort,’’ Patricia said. “It’s totally however we think scheme-wise what will help us win this week.  It might be different the next week and might be different the week after that. We have a lot of good players that can step up in different roles depending on how we decide it’s best to play this game.’’

General manager Bob Quinn may have made the call, but he worked with Patricia on the decision to trade Tate for a third-round pick.

“You have to work together with all those situations. There certainly is good conversation that goes on and it’s good to have that, it really is. You can get caught up either way to one side. You may make decisions that are more emotional than logical. At some point you’re trying to make the best logical decision that you can, that’s the important thing,’’ Patricia said.

“Football is great, there’s a lot of emotion in it, there’s a lot of emotion on game day, there’s a lot of emotion during the game when we work and the relationships are emotional. That’s what makes it so special,’’ Patricia said. “… There’s a huge emotional part of this when you’re running a business or need to make decisions for the greater good.’’

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer can’t be quite sure how to prepare for the Tate-less Lions.

“I think Golden is a heck of a football player, he’s definitely a great run-after-catch guy. He’s always giving us problems,’’ Zimmer said in a conference call on Wednesday morning. “It changes some of the things with our game plans. It’s part of the NFL everything changes all the time.’’

Lions’ trade of Golden Tate to Eagles is a befuddling move

Eagles send third-round pick for the veteran WR

The Lions had a good thing going on offense with a talented trio of wide receivers in Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr., and Kenny Golladay.

Subtract Tate from the equation. He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a third-round pick today, the NFL trade deadline day.

It’s a head-scratching move.

Has GM Bob Quinn given up on the season? He will say no, but his message seems clear.

The Lions are just 3-4 but still had a fighting chance in the NFC North with Tate on the roster.

Now? The offense loses a major weapon. The locker room loses a leader and fans lose one of their favorites.

The three wide receivers are not interchangeable — they each had their strengths. Tate’s shiftiness, his ability to work between the seams and creases set him apart. He fought hard for  yards after the catch and was successful.

The 30-year-old team leader, who was in his fifth season in Detroit, was in the last year of his contract and it seemed unlikely the Lions would pay a high price to bring him back.

However, the timing seems bad. It’s not a move that will sit well with fans or perhaps the rest of the team. This group finished last year 9-7 which cost Jim Caldwell his job. They brought in Matt Patricia to improve on that. They added nose tackle Damon Harrison last week which seems like a good move, but now trading Tate away seems a little scary.

In seven games this season Tate had 44 catches for 517 yards (11.8-yard average), three touchdowns and three carries for 42 yards. He never missed a game in his time in Detroit.

Lions welcome Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison with open arms and a box of snacks

Harrison expected to play Sunday against the Seahawks

ALLEN PARK — Damon “Snacks” Harrison has arrived.

Waiting for the newest Detroit Lions nose tackle in his locker was a big box of snacks — candy, chips, a solid goodie assortment for a 355-pound mountain of a man nicknamed “Snacks.”

“I thought it was appropriate. I reached out to him via social media. He said Honey Buns and Butterfingers, which are solid choices. I figured I’d take care of him and other D-linemen,’’ wide receiver Golden Tate said.

The Lions who traded a fifth-round pick to the N.Y. Giants for Harrison, made the move official on Thursday morning.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Harrison was handed a No. 98 jersey and practiced for the first time with the team. He’ll meet with the media on Friday.

“It’s exciting, he’s been a big-time playmaker in this league for a long time. He’s really good at what he does,’’ Matthew Stafford said. “Hopefully he can bring that to us. Played against him a bunch of times, he’s definitely a guy you star when you playing against him and understand what his strengths are. Obviously really happy to have him.’’

The nose tackle has developed a reputation as a run stuffer, but he offers more than that.

“(He’s) extremely disruptive in the run game and sneaky good in the pass game too,’’ Stafford said. “Condensing the pocket in the pass game, and in the run game just dominating with his size, strength and quickness he’s been really good for along time.’’

Defensive end Kerry Hyder spent 2014 on the practice squad with the N.Y. Jets where Harrison was a starter.

“He’s a good dude, I’ve known him since my rookie year. To see him here, he’s a real cool dude, man, and he’s definitely going to give us a great impact,’’ Hyder said. “I’m excited to see him out there.’’

Hyder expects Harrison to easily pick up the scheme and be ready for Sunday’s game at Ford Field against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Lions are riding a two-game win streak. Not much is needed to pump them up for a Sunday home game, but it appears the addition of Harrison has provided a spark in the locker room.

“What he’s done for a long time speaks for itself,’’ Tate said. “I think he’s an instant addition to our team that’s going to help us. That’s what we’re hoping for. I can’t wait to watch him.’’

Tate is not alone.

 

Detroit Lions wide receiver trio takes a certain pride in run blocking

Tate, Golladay, Jones contribute to improved run game

ALLEN PARK — Robert Prince, the Detroit Lions wide receivers coach, knows his group is loaded with talent.

The skillsets of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr., and Kenny Golladay complement each other and they all have developed good communication with quarterback Matthew Stafford. The trio accounts for nine of the Lions 10 passing touchdowns in the first five games.

Prince wants receivers who are well-rounded.

Proof? Tate set a key block on Sunday during LeGarrette Blount’s second touchdown in the 31-23 win over the Green Bay Packers.

“It’s a game plan thing. It depends on what they are going to do. I feel like Coach Prince, our position coach, prepares us moreso for the run blocking than he does the passes at times,’’ Tate said on Monday.

He wasn’t kidding.

“It’s so important and he knows we all can run routes, he knows we all can catch, he knows we all can block as well, but when a receiver goes in and makes a key block to help a big first down or touchdown I think he gets more excited about that, showing that to the other coaches and Bob Quinn in front of the offensive linemen and running backs, than us going out and catching a touchdown. That’s what we’re supposed to do I guess,’’ Tate said.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Improving the run game was a huge focus entering this season. Credit rookie Kerryon Johnson and the veteran Blount with providing a one-two punch that has the Lions averaging 4.3 yards per carry (tied for 13th in the NFL) and 97.2 rushing yards per game (21st in NFL).

Credit the wide receivers with pitching in on run blocks.

“The way defenses are playing now days, when you have a run game they bring those safeties in the box and they read the run pretty danged well. Sometimes they have an extra guy and you need the receiver to go in through certain linemen or just find a way to get on them,’’ Tate said. “A lot of times that is the block that springs a 7- or 10-yard run or even break a 50-yarder or a run at the goal line. It’s very important especially in this offense. It’s something I know that Bob Quinn looks for in a receiver — a guy who can catch the ball but also can do the dirty work.’’

Funny he used the words “dirty work” — the exact words coach Matt Patricia used to describe Tate’s efforts to help block the run.

“He’s usually closer to the formation being in his normal alignment so he kind of has to dig some of those guys out and get in there pretty quick, which he does a good job of,’’ Patricia said.

The wide receivers take a certain pride in this phase of their work.

“It’s not difficult, but you have to be in the right mind frame, if you’re not you’re not going to block effectively, especially when you’re blocking somebody 250 or 200-and-whatever (pounds). You have to be in the right mind frame, you have to do your job,’’ Jones said. “We have the receivers to do it. I don’t think it’s been that hard, we just have to do it.’’

Lions WR Kenny Golladay comes up big in NFC North win over Packers

His touchdown in the fourth was key

DETROIT >> Kenny Golladay is not a big talker. Doesn’t matter much since the Lions wide receiver lets his actions speak for him.

Golladay had four catches for 98 yards and a touchdown in the Lions’ 31-23 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Ford Field.

“Like I have been saying, whenever my number is called, I’m just trying to make the play,’’ Golladay said. “So if they want to throw it to me five times or four times a game or nine times a game, I just want to make all the plays.”

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

His touchdown came early in the fourth quarter on a second-and-five play from the Green Bay 5-yard line while covered by cornerback Josh Jackson. It was a beauty of a play as he jumped up for the ball in the back of the end zone. Without missing a beat, after he caught it, he zinged the ball into the crowd.

In his second season, his relationship with quarterback Matthew Stafford continues to grow.

“He’s obviously a big kid (6-foot-4), physical kid, can run, wants to be a really good player. Smart, has dialogue with me. All of our guys do, really, which is great,’’ Stafford said. “What they’re seeing out there, what they think we can do — so, I’m just happy for our team to get a win. Obviously happy for Kenny. He had a good one.”

Along with Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr., the Lions have one of the best receiving trios in the NFL. They can’t all have big numbers each game, but it works.

“This is just a game of matchups. Last week, GT (Golden Tate) went for 100 and whatever, this week Kenny had a big one. Marv (Marvin Jones Jr.) will have a big one next week. That’s what makes this offense difficult to defend, we have a lot of guys that can make plays,’’ Stafford said. “I was happy that Kenny had some opportunities today and made some big ones. I had a couple chances at some others and for one reason or another those got called back or whatever. So, just proud of the way we fought as a team. Kenny obviously had a nice game.”

In the first five games this season, Golladay has 27 catches for 428 yards and three touchdowns. Tate has 33 receptions for 431 yards and three touchdowns. Jones had 16 catches for 241 yards and three touchdowns.