So, each week, I'll pick 10 good questions that I either didn't get to or would like to expand upon. I might also throw in a few here and there from my Twitter account @ttwentyman.
Q. What’s the update on Delmas and Houston for this week’s game? From Chris
A. We will obviously know more Wednesday at practice, but Houston said Monday that he plans on practicing Wednesday to test out the high ankle sprain he suffered against the Raiders in the preseason 17 days ago. Thursday is a big day for him. If he practices Wednesday, how will the ankle feel Thursday? That’ll tell me if he’s playing or not. Stay tuned.
As for Delmas, he’s back working out and that’s a good sign. The Lions opted for the surgery on that left knee on Aug. 7 in hopes of having him ready for Week 1. That obviously didn’t happen, but I suspect he’s getting closer. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t in the mix to come back this week.
Q. What are the players’ attitude towards the upcoming matchup between them and the 49ers? Are they confident they can win this matchup this Sunday night in primetime? From Brian Pauline
A. Well Brian, why don’ I let the players answer this one themselves. Here are a couple from Monday:
Q. Is San Francisco that good or has Green Bay taken a step back? From guest
A. I think the 49ers are that good. Let’s take a closer look at that game.
49ers running back Frank Gore averaged seven yards per rush (112 total rushing yards) and quarterback Alex Smith completed 77 percent of his passes. Oh yeah, did I mention that the offense is the perceived "weakest" part of the team?
The defense forced the Packers offense, led by reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, into six punts, an interception and one touchdown in their first eight offensive possessions of the game.
Did I also mention the Packers were playing at home?
“This is as good as you face defensively, coming up this week,” Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told me Monday. “You’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a better defense or a defense that’s played better than San Fran did last year, and really (Sunday).”
The 49ers are good -- Super Bowl caliber good -- but the Lions can beat them if they play well.
Q. Is the key to this game (containing) Justin and Aldon Smith and what the OL does with them this time? From Mork
A. It’s one of them, certainly.
The 49ers battered
The 49ers averaged a sack once every 12 drop backs with Aldon Smith on field last season, according to ESPN stats, but averaged a sack once every 23 drop backs with him off the field. He had a sack Sunday against the Packers after racking up 14 last year.
Lions left tackle
Keeping Stafford clean has to be a major concern for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
Q. Hi Tim, Enjoy your stuff as always! Pettigrew had a decent game this past Sunday; will Stafford go to him more against 49ers tougher defense using short yardage situations? From Kenny Long
A. I think you might be on to something, Kenny. Just take a look at last year’s game. Pettigrew was targeted 14 times in that game. That’s a lot of targets for an offense that prides itself in spreading the ball around. Of those 14 targets, Pettigrew had eight receptions, but averaged just 5.3 yards per catch.
Last year in this game, Pettigrew was an extension of the run game for the Lions. The Lions had 66 yards rushing in the game last year and I suspect they might have an equally difficult time running against a 49ers defense that allowed an average of 77.5 yards per game on the ground and just three touchdowns all last season.
Sunday in Lambeau, the Packers had 45 yards rushing against the 49ers in a loss.
Expect Pettigrew to fill some of the void again this year.
Q. Justin Durant had 12 solo tackles Sunday. I think people underappreciate what we have in him! Him and Tulloch are a DYNAMIC duo! From Tyler
A. Lets correct one thing thing real quick. That was 12 combined tackles (seven solo), according to the final stats. Nonetheless, it was probably the best game he’s played as a Lion. He said as much Monday. He was all over the field and made some nice open-field tackles.
I think you’re underplaying the game
I think the biggest thing with the linebackers is that you want them to be in the right spots and be sure tacklers. They were neither the last time we saw them on the field in New Orleans before Sunday’s game.
Tulloch is as solid as they come, but I thought heading into this season Durant and Levy both had something to prove. It should be noted that both players are unrestricted free agents after this season. The three starting linebackers accounted for 27 tackles against the Rams, that’s getting it done.
Let’s see if it continues this week against a much more physical offense in the 49ers. They play equally as well this week and we should all be impressed.
But I think you're right, Durant is under appreciated a bit. Let's not forget that it was Durant who missed this game last year and his replacement, Bobby Carpenter, missed the fourth-down assignment that lost them the game.
Q. You think we see receiver
A. As of right now, Broyles appears to be the fifth receiver on the roster because of what
Everyone knows Broyles isn’t 100 percent healthy yet and has yet to regain all of his speed. Can he still help the Lions? Certainly. But it’s a numbers game when picking 46 players to dress on Sunday.
“We wanted to keep a couple guys up at some other positions,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Broyles being inactive. “It’s just a week-to-week thing. We had four wide receivers up. We also had, you know, three tight ends up. We used all of them in our passing game.”
Q. Tim, I know you are a big Leshoure fan. But I think
A. Smith was very efficient on Sunday with 91 total yards (62 rushing) and two touchdowns.
That being said, there’s a reason the Lions moved up last year to select Leshoure in the second round of the draft. There’s a reason the Lions coaches and players seemed devastated that day in training camp last year when Leshoure tore his Achilles tendon.
Smith is a good player who has been, and will continue to be, an important part of the offense, but Leshoure deserves equal opportunity to show what he can do. He brings a different running style and a certain element of power to the run game that the Lions have been lacking for a long time. Smith might start Week 3 against the Titans, but we’re going to see plenty of Leshoure. They will compliment each other nicely, but it’s only a matter of time before Leshoure becomes the guy. Even if Smith is a fan favorite.
Q. Do the 49ers trust their DB's enough to cover
A. I haven’t seen one-on-one coverage with Calvin in a long time. I think the Bears in 2009 were the last team to try it as a game plan. They came out and ran it on Calvin for the first half and Stafford targeted him nine times and Johnson had five catches for 119 yards in the first half. As expected, they abandoned it in the second half.
The Jets did a little bit of it with Darrelle Revis and were pretty successful in 2010.
I don’t expect the 49ers will try much of it, though. They are terrific against the run (No. 1 in the NFL last year), if I’m the 49ers defensive coordinator the key is to not let Johnson, or anyone else, beat me deep. Make the Lions drive the football on the best defense in the league.
No big plays should be No. 1 on their defensive board. Leaving Calvin single covered is the easiest recipe to a big play in the NFL today.
Q. Tim, will the run game be more of an emphasis this week and going forward against better defensive teams so that the passing game can excel? From Wisconsin Lions fan
A. Simple answer is no. The run game will never be the emphasis. How could it with weapons like Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson,
The Lions set up their run with the pass. I think that’s how their offensive line is built, too. All their playmakers – at least the proven ones – are in the pass game. We’ll have to see where Mikel Leshoure fits into the mix when he gets back.
Schwartz joked last year that he gets why the fans and the media are so focused on his run game. He pointed to the days of Bo Schembechler and this being Big Ten country (before Denard Robinson and the spread). The Lions are a passing team.
It is what it is and it’s not going to change while Stafford and Co. are running the show.