10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: How can Lions slow down Cowboys' offense?

Every week during the regular season Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: It will be a tough task, no doubt. Dallas ranks in the top six in every major statistical category on offense and features one of the best skill position trios in the game in quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Amari Cooper.

I think two things need to happen for Detroit to have a shot at containing Dallas’ offense Sunday:

  1. Defensive end Trey Flowers needs to stay hot. He’s on a three-game sack streak and has been a big-time disruptor both in the pass game and as an edge run defender the last few weeks. He’s been their best player in the front seven over the last month, and that will need to continue Sunday.
  2. I’d travel cornerback Darius Slay on Cooper and take my chances best on best. Opposing passers have an 83.8 passer rating throwing on Slay this year with one touchdown. Slay was added to the practice report Thursday with a neck injury, and it's unclear what that means for his availability, if anything.

20man: It doesn’t look good with him missing practice Wednesday and Thursday to start the week. We won’t know for certain until Friday’s injury report designation or Sunday’s inactive list 90 minutes before the game, but quarterback Jeff Driskel seems likely to start at this point.

20man: The Lions plan on attending the workout set up by the league for all 32 teams. That’s a little different than bringing Kaepernick in for a private workout or visit.

GM Bob Quinn and his staff will do their due diligence and evaluate the workout, as most teams probably will do in Atlanta on Saturday.

We’ll just have to see where it goes from there.

20man: If Matthew Stafford gets the OK from the medical professionals he can play without doing any more damage to his back, and he wants to play, then he should play. He’s an 11-year veteran and has earned that respect, even if the Lions are out of the playoff picture at the time.

Stafford is a competitor. I honestly believe it would cause a bigger issue if you tried to tell him he couldn’t play when his body is allowing him to play.

This is a team that’s led in every game they’ve played this season. They’ve been close, but can’t find a way to make enough plays to get over the hump. They start doing that and then they start building some confidence, who knows where that might lead down the line.

20man: Fans sometimes have a different view of the season than players and coaches. No player in that locker room will say the season is over until they are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and even then, they’ll say there are still things to play for, whether that’s pride, personal goals or something else.

Coaches won’t ever stop coaching, trying to get better and trying to win games.

Right now Oruwariye is a special teams player, and I’d expect him to continue to be a special teams player as long as the cornerbacks in front of him on the depth chart stay healthy and are available to play.

20man: He’s getting closer to returning. I saw him running sprints off the side of practice Wednesday for the first time since he hurt the knee. He was flying pretty good, too. Obviously he has to get back to practice and starting cutting and putting the stress back on his knee before he can return to game action.

I wouldn’t expect him to be available Sunday vs. Dallas without having practiced this week, but maybe next week in Washington starts to become a possibility.

20man: I think it’s dangerous trying to assess the overall value of a player 10 games into his rookie season, whether it’s the No. 8 pick, No. 43 pick or No. 200 pick, especially playing a position as difficult to master early in a career as tight end. No tight end comes into this league and tears it up. It just doesn’t happen. Him being the No. 8 pick just means he was the highest graded player on the Lions board at the time at a position of need.

T.J. Hockenson has 25 catches for 343 yards and a couple scores. He’s had a couple drops in the end zone, and if he makes those plays, those numbers look better.

Let’s also remember he’s playing alongside two receivers that are on pace for 1,000-plus yards and 10-plus touchdowns apiece. That’s dipped into his production. Hockenson is a good player, and I think he’s going to be a good player for a long time.

As far as Tavai, he’s had a nice start to his rookie season. He’s proven he can play in a number of different spots. He was making the defensive calls last week in Chicago. He’s got 34 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and has shown an ability to play in space. A lot of Lions fans didn’t like the pick initially, mostly because they’d never heard of him, but he’s played pretty well and should continue to get better.

It’s always good to wait to make a final evaluation on players after two or three years. Most make such a huge jump from year one to year two and then into year three. Give them time. Both look like they’re going to be good players and core pieces moving forward.

20man: This was always going to be a big year for Decker after the team picked up his fifth-year option for next season. Is he the long-term guy at left tackle?

He had a rough start to the year giving up two sacks Week 1 in Arizona, but he’s righted the ship. He’s allowed just two sacks over his last seven games, and shut out both Minnesota and Chicago from a sack standpoint, which isn’t easy to do.

I think he needs to clean up some of the penalty issues. He’s been flagged in four straight games. He’s graded right in the middle of the pack by Pro Football Focus among left tackles, and that’s kind of where I view him. He hasn’t been a Pro Bowl player at the position, but he’s not a liability, either. He’s a solid left tackle. We’ll find out if that’s good enough for Quinn and Co. in the coming offseason and draft.

20man: One of the final stages of being cleared from concussion protocol is returning to physical activity and practice. If he doesn’t show any symptoms after physical activity, then he’s on his way to being cleared. It's a good sign he was at practice Thursday.

20man: Detroit’s rookie fourth-round pick returned to practice Oct. 30 and that started a 21-day window in which the Lions could activate him to the 53-man roster or leave him on IR at the conclusion of the 21-day period. That gives the Lions until next week to make a decision.

He missed most of training camp and the first half of the season and was pretty far behind in terms of technique and fundamental work in pads, but as long as there hasn’t been any setbacks I would expect him to get activated and play this season. I’ll bring up the subject in Matt Patricia’s Friday press conference to get an official update.

The Lions are allowed to designate two players from IR for return. Bryant and running back Kerryon Johnson are the most likely candidates to me.

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