Detroit Lions lack of depth shows in 31-3 preseason loss to New England Patriots

DETROIT — It wasn’t that the Lions lost to the New England Patriots 31-3 in the preseason opener, it was how they lost.

Of course, most starters did not play but that’s the way it was for both teams in the game at Ford Field on Thursday.

So no matter how you paint it, it was not pretty. Camp is not over and depth at certain positions (including the offensive line) seems to be an issue

The Patriots scored four touchdowns while the Lions managed just eight first downs.

Lions quarterbacks Tom Savage (who started) and backup David Fales were sacked nine times losing 81 yards. To start the second half guards Kenny Wiggins and Graham Glasgow were in, giving Fales a little more protection.

At the end of that ugly first half New England had amassed 262 yards while the Lions could only manage 28. When it was over the Patriots had 459 total net yards while the Lions had 93.

Need more examples?

Patriots rookie wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who was not drafted, caught two touchdown passes — once beating safety Miles Killebrew in coverage and then getting past cornerback Mike Ford on the second score. 

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

“Obviously a long night for us here, with the game not obviously how we wanted it to go. Give the Patriots credit, they came out and played hard, they did a great job of executing plays they ran tonight,’’ coach Matt Patricia said. “We have to do a better job of going out and competing and we have to do a better job of executing the plays we need to execute at.’’

Patricia didn’t seem angry, just more determined. He knows what needs to be done.

It’s a loss but it’s a preseason game and, like he mentioned, it was their first game in seven months.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re in the middle of camp, we’ve got to keep grinding away and get better,’’ said Patricia whose team will head to Houston next week for joint practices before the preseason game at Houston on Aug. 17.

A few times he mentioned that the improvements have to start with the coaches.

“You always try to evaluate the first game and some of the things you’re working on when you go through practice,’’ Patricia said. “Things you see in practice you want to make sure that transfers over to the game, that will be a big part of the evaluation.’’

Not too many highlights but running back Ty Johnson had a few nice runs — officially three carries for 22 yards but he had a long scamper called back. While Killebrew got beat on one touchdown he had six tackles which was tied with safety Andrew Adams and rookie cornerback Amani Oruwariye. 

In case there was any question to why most starters did not see action, the Lions had two go down with what could be serious injuries before the end of the first quarter.

Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was carted off with a left leg in jury less than three minutes into the game. Patriots’ Terrence Brooks rolled onto Kearse’s leg and twisted it. The veteran had a chance to make the Lions’ roster as the fourth wide receiver. No word on the severity of his injury, but the replay did not look good. 

Backup quarterback Tom Savage was sacked on back-to-back plays, hitting the top of his head on the second one. He left the game and didn’t return. It looked like it could have been a concussion but no official word.

Patricia said they are in an evaluation process for all the injured players so no updates.

Then in the second quarter, defensive tackle Darius Kilgo suffered what appeared to be a left leg injury. He was helped off the field by trainers.

Zach Zenner was taken into the popup blue tent on the sideline likely to be evaluated for a concussion but he was soon back on the bench.

The Lions have Friday off and then will continue training camp on Saturday and Sunday.

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Mike Daniels says Matt Patricia is reason he signed with Detroit Lions

ALLEN PARK — Thirteen NFL teams called within the first hour after defensive tackle Mike Daniels was released by the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday.

He signed with the Detroit Lions on Saturday and was on the practice field on Sunday for the fourth day of training camp. He was not in pads so he didn’t fully participate but he was out there soaking it in.

Make no mistake about it, there was one reason that Daniels chose the Lions. His name is Matt Patricia.

“He’s just a genius, he really is. He understands the game of football he knows what it takes to be able to play for a coach like that means everything,’’ the 30-year-old Daniels said. “I’m trying to be restrained right now but I’m so excited if I could do a backflip right now I would, I’m so excited.’’

Daniels, who played for the past seven seasons with the Packers, had never met Patricia until their interview on Friday.

“I knew everything about him, I’ve always respected him and respected his work. I thank God I got cut and I have an opportunity to play with a defensive genius,’’ Daniels said. “I’m glad I get the opportunity to play for a coach that demands doing things the right way.

Daniels will join Snacks Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, Trey Flowers, Da’Shawn Hand and Romeo Okwara on the defensive line. 

“They definitely have a tough defensive front, they’ve always done a great job. I’ve always respected the Lions’ defensive front and now with coach Paticia being here and seeing the guys he’s brought over here they’ve only gotten better, couldn’t help but notice,’’ Daniels said. “To be able to play with those guys is awesome.’’

He said he’s known Harrison since college and has the utmost admiration for him.

While Daniels seems elated to be in Detroit, he was careful not to in any way slam the Packers. 

He credits Green Bay coaches for making him the player he is today.

Daniels missed the last six games of the season in 2018 with a foot injury. He wasn’t clear when asked about his foot.

“Just working and taking everything day by day,” Daniels said.

Patricia was also a little unclear about the status of Daniels’ foot injury.

“You’re not going to throw him in there for 1,000 reps. That’s not really going to work, but you just go along with kind of the pattern of what I said,’’ Patricia said. “He’ll be out there and go through the drills, and we’ll get familiar with him from that standpoint. Trust him, he’s a professional. He’s done this for a long time at a high level. That feedback is critical for me, and our coaching staff, and our medical staff.’’

 

It’s official: Lions sign DE Mike Daniels; surprisingly release Theo Riddick

ALLEN PARK — The Lions made it official on Saturday morning that they’ve signed veteran defensive end Mike Daniels.

Running back Theo Riddick was released to make room for Daniels.

Coach Matt Patricia made the announcements Saturday morning just before the start of camp.

“I have a lot of respect for (Daniels), he’s had really good production in the way he plays the game, he’s very intense,’’ Patricia said noting his knowledge of the game.

Patricia said he met with Daniels on Thursday. 

“He’s very aware of the division which is nice,’’ Patricia said.

Daniels joins Damon “Snacks” Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, Trey Flowers, Da’Shawn Hand and Romeo Okwara on the defensive line. 

The Green Bay Packers released the 30-year-old Daniels just before the start of camp.

The seven-year veteran signed a one-year deal worth $9.1 according to several reports. He was set to make $8.1 million in Green Bay this season.

Daniels, a Pro Bowler in 2017, had 29 sacks in his seven years with the Packers. He was a fourth-round draft pick in 2012. 

Patricia would not get into details of why they cut Riddick who was scheduled to make $3.2 million this season.

“Theo is obviously a great professional, did a lot of great things for us,’’ Patricia said.

Riddick spent the last six seasons with the Lions. Last season in 14 games he had 40 carries for 171 yards and 61 catches for 384 yards.

The Lions added veteran running back C.J. Anderson in the offseason and have depth at the position with Kerryon Johnson, Zack Zenner and rookie Ty Johnson.

Detroit Lions’ C.J. Anderson describes his run game as ‘just nasty’

ALLEN PARK – Running back C.J. Anderson has three words to describe his style: “It’s just nasty.”

OK, then. The seven-year NFL veteran expects to bring some of that nastiness to the Detroit Lions offense.

“It’s just downhill, there’s nothing special about it if it’s 4 it’s 4. If it’s 6 it’s 6, if is’t 46 it’s 46. It is what it is,’’ Anderson said on Friday, the second day of training camp.

He’s averaged 4.5 yards per carry in his first six seasons in the league — the first five with the Denver Broncos and then in 2018 he played nine games for the Florida Panthers and two for the Los Angeles Rams.

He credits his respect for coach Matt Patricia as the reason he signed with the Lions.

“Me and him had a lot of battles (when I was) in Denver in his New England days,’’ Anderson said. “I respect what he’s trying to get done over here, I see what he’s trying to get done over here. He respects me as a player and he asked if I could help him accomplish that and I said. “Why not?’’’

Anderson owns one Super Bowl ring and came up on the short end in two other Super Bowls.

That experience is a part of what he brings to Detroit.

“aCome out here and work every day, we put our heads down, try to eliminate bad football, understand situational football,’’ Anderson said. “That’s the difference between really good teams and really bad teams — understanding those little situations, getting off the field on third down on defense, keeping drives alive on third down for us. Some of those things are being talked about, I can’t speak what was talked about (last year) I wasn’t here. I just know the past two successful teams I’ve been on — two losses, one (Super Bowl) win —  those are some of the things we did.’’

He said it’s about attitude and leadership.

“I pride myself on preparation. I’ve been raised in this league by the more better, correct vets, I guess you could say,’’ Anderson said. “Just trying to bring that knowledge of football to the team.’’

It’s early but he’s quite impressed by running back Kerryon Johnson who is heading into his second season.

“Kerryon is a good man, he’s going to be fun,’’ Anderson said. “I had a young guy last year, C- Mac (Christian McCaffrey), just trying to give him everything I can. I’m here to help whether that’s on the field or whether that’s off the field or in the meeting rooms. I’m here to help hopefully push his career beyond mine or up to mine — Year 7 or past Year 7. That’s my goal with the young guys.’’

Without pads in the first two days of training camp, it’s impossible to judge Anderson’s game. He does seem to be alongside Kerryon Johnson for much of the workouts.

 

 

Detroit Lions camp: Rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson impressive early

ALLEN PARK — Tight end T.J. Hockenson’s catches deep in the corner of the end zone have been among the highlights during the first two days of Detroit Lions training camp.

Even his teammates appreciate it — hooting and hollering for the rookie each time he brings in a ball thrown by Matthew Stafford.

The first-round pick takes his early stand-out plays in stride.

“We’re all just trying to have fun out here. I’m just trying to have fun playing the game I love, being able to do it with these guys means a lot,’’ Hockenson said. “This group of veterans has taken you in really well, they’ve accepted me as part of this team and I’m super excited to get started.’’

If the first two days of camp are any indication, this could be a very tight-end friendly offense under new coordinator Darrell Bevell.

Hockenson doesn’t put more pressure on himself because he’s a first-round pick. Like each and every one of the Lions he repeats the mantra that he just wants to get better every day.

“He knows that he has a lot to earn and he’s got a long way to go, but he is a hard worker. He loves the game. The guy’s 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. He’s got to go out there and do it consistently and do it every single day.”

Hockenson, who is 6-foot-5, is one six tight ends on the camp roster. All of them are new to the Lions this season, although Logan Thomas (6-foot-6) and Jesse James (6-foot-7) bring years of NFL experience. 

“It’s competition in camp, we have such a great tight end room. Logan and everyone in that group has been great, they’ve accepted us they’ve done everything that I can ask,’’ Hockenson said. “They’ve taught us things that a rookie wouldn’t normally see. It’s nice to be with that group of guys.’’

Hockenson repeatedly mentioned how the intelligence level is so much higher than it was in college (Iowa).

“The defense can see a formation one time and know the play. You have to be smarter than the 10-year vet that is in front of you,’’ Hockenson said. “Being a rookie you have to come in and study and work at it, that’s what we’re all trying to do, that’s what I’m trying to do.’’

Tight end is traditionally one of the hardest positions to learn as a rookie requiring that they know how to catch and also block for the run game. Hockenson said it’s all a challenge.

“It’s the next level. Everything is faster, everything is more dynamic, everyone is smarter, it’s different,’’ Hockenson said. “I’m coming to work every day trying to take that next step and get better every single day.’’

Detroit Lions training camp: Danny Amendola out to develop his role

ALLEN PARK — Danny Amendola’s challenge is finding where he best fits in the Detroit Lions’ new-look offense.

“I’m trying to develop a role on this team and I’m trying to expand that role as much as I can, do whatever I can to help the team win in whatever capacity that is. That’s why I’m here,’’ the 33-year-old said on Thursday.

Amendola  played in 15 games for the Miami Dolphins last season with 59 receptions and a touchdown. The previous five seasons he spent with the New England Patriots where he got to know Matt Patricia who was the defensive coordinator.

“He’s tough man, he demands a lot, he expects a lot, he has high expectations. I knew that coming here that’s why I wanted to come here, he’s a great coach,’’ Amendola said. 

Patricia obviously thinks highly of him too.

“I think just in general you’ve got to love Danny Amendola, you’ve got to love everything he brings every single day,’’ Patricia said on Friday. “He’s probably one of the most intense people you’re going to talk to. When you’re passionate about the game of football like we all are and like he is passion breeds passion … 

“He’s like everybody else he’s got a lot of work to do to improve. But as far as a person he’s a football guy, he loves the game, he loves being around the guys, loves every aspect of it. All of that energy is contagious and that’s great to be around all the time,’’ the coach said.

The veteran wide receiver — he is 33 —  been working overtime with Matthew Stafford to develop a rapport.

“Anytime we’re able to get together we try to get as many reps as we can is possible. We’re out here right now trying to steal as many reps, before practice, after practice, in the weight room,’’ he said. “We’re always talking about ideas, trying to get better.’’

Amendola, who wears No. 80, was among those returning punts in training camp on Thursday.

During the spring Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay were sidelined with injuries which gave Amendola more reps with Stafford.

“It’s great to have them back they’re two explosive players and I’m happy to be playing with them,’’ Amendola said. “I’m excited to be it he huddle with them.’’

He’s not the only veteran wide receiver signed as a free agent. Jermaine Kearse has also been added to the roster.

Amendola also has the utmost respect for Stafford.

“Exceptional. He’s up there with the best I’ve been with,’’ Amendola said. “Extremely cerebral player, he can anticipate and he’s been doing it for a long time at an extremely high level so I’m excited to be here with him.’’

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.’’