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10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: How will Lions replace Tracy Walker?

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: I'm with you. It's a huge loss for the defense. Not only was Walker the team's leading tackler last year (103), but he was leading the team again through two games before the injury. He's a captain and their most vocal leader on defense. He put in a lot of work to master this scheme and be even more impactful in it. He is one of defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn's most trusted players. I feel bad for him because he was really excited about this season.

Some of the communication errors last week in Minnesota were a result of Walker being out and the more inexperienced JuJu Hughes being in the game. There isn't a safety on the roster of Walker's caliber outside of fellow starter DeShon Elliott. That's not saying guys can't fill in and be good, but Walker was undoubtedly Detroit's most productive defensive player. It's a huge loss.

20man: The most immediate one I think will be cornerback Jerry Jacobs, who could return to practice as early as next week according to NFL rules. That doesn't guarantee he'll be ready to go Week 5 in New England, but I think it's very reasonable to think Week 7 after the bye he could be in the mix for playing time.

I know rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams is chomping at the bit to get back, but the team isn't going to rush him. I suspect they'll want to have him practice at least a couple weeks before throwing him into the fire on gameday. I always thought it would be a November return for him, and I'm sticking with that.

I haven't heard much on fullback Jason Cabinda or rookie defensive lineman Josh Paschal, but I do expect them back at some point this season. Veteran defensive lineman Romeo Okwara seems a ways off still.

20man: Here's the quote from Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf on cornerback Jeff Okudah this week for those who may have missed it: "There's a safety over the top of him, so he's really not locking people down. But he's a good corner."

Safety help or not, Okudah is allowing just 36 yards per game in his coverage with no touchdowns. Opposing passers have a 74.6 passer rating when throwing his way. He's been good. He's been really good. He held Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson to two catches on four targets for nine yards when he was on him last week. I consider Jefferson one of the best in the league.

Metcalf is a different receiver, however. He's 6-foot-4, 235 pounds with 4.3 speed. It will be interesting to see how the Lions decide to roll their coverage between Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. This is probably the best receiver duo the Lions have faced so far.

I expect Glenn to give plenty of safety help to limit the big plays, but there will be times when Okudah and Metcalf are singled up and I'd expect Okudah to compete his butt off like he's done all year. If there's a defensive MVP through three games for the Lions, Okudah would get my vote. It should be a great matchup on the outside with him and Amani Oruwariye against Metcalf and Lockett.

20man: I agree with you 100 percent that's been disappointing. Levi Onwuzurike, Josh Paschal, Ifeatu Melifonwu and Kerby Joseph, all defensive players and second and third-round picks the last two seasons, should be starters and key contributors on defense. That simply hasn't been the case.

Now to be fair, injuries have played a big role in that with Onwuzurike, Paschal and Melifonwu, and those things can happen unexpectedly, but there was a history with Onwuzurike and Paschal. Joseph could be getting his shot sooner rather than later with the Walker injury.

I've always said first, second and third-round picks should be starters or heavy contributors. We have to give Paschal the benefit of the doubt because we haven't seen him play yet – hopefully that comes soon – but I think it's fair to expect more from these second and third-round picks moving forward.

20man: Good question. I think a lot of that will depend on the flow of the game and the success of Craig Reynolds and Jamaal Williams early in the game. Assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley really likes Reynolds and what he brings to the backfield. When given an opportunity to carry the load Week 15 last year, he rushed for 112 yards on 26 carries in a Lions win over Arizona.

Williams is a thumper and is coming off a nice performance last week with 20 carries for 87 yards and two scores. Reynolds is going to see an increased role if D’Andre Swift doesn't play, especially in the red zone in non-goal line situations, but I think 70-30 is probably a good expectation going into the game, unless Reynolds starts hot and coaches want to stay with a hot hand.

20man: Friday's injury report and game designation list will give us a better picture, but the ones I'm most concerned about missing Sunday's game are: Guard Jonah Jackson, defensive lineman John Cominsky, wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and running back D'Andre Swift.

I'd have a backup plan for St. Brown and Swift on your fantasy team, though St. Brown could surprise us Sunday depending on how the ankle responds to treatment this week.

20man: No. Oruwariye had a bad game last week. He'd be the first one to say so. It probably hasn't been the start to the season overall he'd have liked. But Oruwariye is one of the few proven players on this defense who can generate turnovers. He was Detroit's best cornerback last season and finished third in the league with six interceptions.

Oruwariye had a target on his back last week and a couple of those calls were suspect in my book. I'm certainly not ready to move on from a player with a proven track record of success after one bad game.

That being said, when Jacobs is ready to return, the Lions will have some decisions to make. These coaches really love Jacobs, but that's a few weeks away. For now, let's see how Oruwariye responds this week against a good receiving corps in Seattle.

20man: Hughes stepped in and filled the void in-game last week. But it's very much an open competition this week between Hughes, second-year safety Ifeatu Melifonwu and rookie Kerby Joseph.

"There's going to be competition this week to who gets that job," defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said. "All three of those [players] are going to get a chance, and I'll be honest with you and tell you, listen. We're going to see who's going to be the best one this week, and we're going to put that guy into play."

That's always been Dan Campbell and Glenn's MO. If a guy makes some plays in practice and practices well, they aren't afraid to give him an opportunity in the game. I'd say Hughes has the edge, but stay tuned.

20man: I think DJ Chark and Josh Reynolds will give it a go Sunday, but I'm not so sure about Amon-Ra St. Brown, which could give Raymond some opportunities in the slot.

You know who I think has a chance for a big game, however, is tight end T.J. Hockenson. He's been pretty quiet to start the season (10 rec, 82 yds, 1 TD) and OC Ben Johnson knows what he's capable of with some skill-position guys banged up.

20man: Some of these injuries are kind of freak things, like Jonah Jackson getting his finger caught in another player's pads. Ankles, shoulders and knees are just things that come up playing this game.

I think if it were a lot of soft-tissue injuries coming up it would be more concerning to me.

Here's what Campbell had to say when asked about that this week:

"I know it obviously looks worse than maybe it is at times, but we look at everything and it's not like I'm just blind to the fact that we have injuries. But man, I pay a lot of attention to all that, I look at all the data. We've got GPS, we've got – the way we train. Man, I look at it all and I just – I don't feel like it's something that we're doing at this point. Look, we look and I'm going to continue to look. I mean, I'm not going to just totally turn a blind eye."

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