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10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: What does Banks bring to Lions?

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 personally would be pretty surprised if we saw him on the field right away Sunday in Minnesota.

I talked to him Wednesday, and his head seemed to be spinning a bit just trying to learn the playbook. I asked him what his role was, and he told me flat-out he didn't have a role yet. He was just trying to learn the defense.

It's unclear where exactly Banks will fit into the Lions' secondary after playing in five games, mostly on special teams, for the Buccaneers this year.

There will be an adjustment period for him, and the Lions will want to know exactly what he brings to the table in their scheme before trotting him out there.

Injuries, obviously, could change things.

20man: You might not have to worry about the "minus Slay" part, Zach. It was a very good sign that Slay was back on the practice field Wednesday. We'll obviously have to monitor his progress and how much he practices throughout the week.

If Slay can't go, however, this still isn't a bad matchup for Detroit's secondary. The Vikings are 31st in total offense and 28th passing, and are changing offensive coordinators on the fly after Norv Turner resigned this week. Pat Shurmer is replacing Turner.

Sam Bradford has been sacked 11 times and hit 22 times total the last two weeks. He's been under constant duress, and no passing game can function efficiently that way.

This matchup, to me, is all about how much pressure the Lions can put on Bradford.

The Vikings have some nice skill position weapons in Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Kyle Rudolph, but I wouldn't call them an intimidating bunch.

Can the Lions get to Bradford the way Philadelphia and Chicago did? If so, it's a great matchup defensively.

One other factor to consider: Bradford is 70-for-97 (72.1 percent) for 819 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 114.6 in three home games this season. He's a different quarterback at home.

20man: I wouldn't go that far, Mat.

The Vikings' defense ranks first in points allowed (14.9), second in yards (297.1), fourth against the pass (204.6) and eighth against the run (92.6). Plus they'll be playing at home, where they are 3-0 this season with wins over Green Bay, Houston and the New York Giants.

The Lions are still underdogs to the tune of 6.5 points by most estimates.

20man: Through eight games, the Lions have given up 50 receptions for 517 yards and eight touchdowns to tight ends. Houston tight ends caught 10 passes for 94 yards and a score last week.

Head coach Jim Caldwell said after last week's game that the main goal was stopping receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller on the outside. In doing so, they knew there would be more opportunities inside, and were counting on single defenders winning their matchups vs. Houston's tight ends, which they didn't do.

"We still have to get better," Caldwell said. "That's the key, but I do think that our guys did a nice job on the two guys (Hopkins and Fuller) that we really wanted to make certain we slowed them down a little bit."

The problem for Teryl Austin is that it hasn't just been one player who's struggled defending the position. Linebackers Tahir Whitehead and Josh Bynes, as well as safeties Tavon Wilson, Rafael Bush and Miles Killebrew all have had issues.

There's no quick fix when we're talking about that many players.

@ttwentyman Even with Slay, Levy, and Ngata back and Ansah fully healthy what is the ceiling for this defense? #10Questions — Usman Syed (@UAMSyed) November 2, 2016

20man: It's hard to say because we haven't seen all four on the field together and healthy since Week 1.

If Levy returns healthy, and Ansah becomes more of his disruptive self, the defense should improve against the pass. I'd certainly hope so, at least.

Levy's very good at covering the underneath routes, which have plagued the Lions all season. Detroit currently ranks 19th in pass defense (259.4 yards per game).

@ttwentyman how will the tie games the last two weeks affect the NFC playoff race? 3 NFC teams now with a x-x-1 record #10questions — Double Dee (@DGarraston) November 2, 2016

20man: There's a lot of season to go, but the ties certainly do have a chance at gumming up the standings. Tiebreakers and playoff scenarios could play a big factor later on.

Here's what the NFC playoff picture looks like right now:

No. 1 Cowboys (6-1, NFC East)

No. 2 Vikings (5-2, NFC North)

No. 3 Seahawks (4-2-1, NFC West)

No. 4 Falcons (5-3, NFC South)

No. 5 Packers (4-3, Wildcard)

No. 6 Giants (4-3, Wildcard)

In the hunt:

No. 7 Eagles (4-3)

No. 8 Redskins (4-3-1)

No. 9 Lions (4-4)

The Lions own tiebreakers with Philadelphia and Washington. They still have to play Minnesota twice, Green Bay once (at home), New York on the road and Dallas on the road on Monday Night Football Week 16.

Five of the Lions' last eight games are against teams currently in the NFC playoffs. It will sort itself out.

20man: It will be a very good test for Cooter.

It's a little different calling plays when a team is 1-7 with nothing to lose, than it is a team in the playoff hunt needing to make a run in the second half.

These next eight games will say a lot about not only Cooter, but also Stafford and the rest of the players on that side of the ball.

20man: It's about time Ziggy Ansah had himself a big game. He's dealt with an ankle injury since Week 2 that kept him out of three games. And while he's assisted on some other teammates getting sacks recently, he still hasn't recorded a sack of his own on the season.

If there was ever going to be a game where that could change, Sunday seems like a good time. The Vikings have played terribly upfront the last couple weeks, and have allowed the seventh most sacks (19) in the NFL this season.

@ttwentyman What are the options for Ameer? When is he able to play again? When are the lions required to say he's eligible to return? — Nick Coscarelli (@CoscarelliNick) November 1, 2016

20man: Per the new rule this season, the Lions don't have to designate their one player allowed to return off injured reserve until he actually returns to practice.

Before, the team had to make that designation right after the player was injured.

Any time after six weeks have elapsed since being placed on IR, each club is permitted to designate one player for return from IR. The club is required to notify the league office that the player has been "Designated For Return" on the first day he begins practice.

The player cannot be returned to the Active/Inactive List (game action) until eight weeks have elapsed since the date he was placed on IR.

For Abdullah, it meant he was eligible to return to practice before Detroit's Week 8 game in Houston. He did not, obviously. The earliest Abdullah could return to game action would be Week 11 vs. Jacksonville at home.

At this point, I really wouldn't be surprised either way — him coming back or staying on IR.

20man: Theo Riddick isn't going anywhere after signing his new extension earlier this year.

I'm on record as saying I like Ameer Abdullah as a lead back, and think he can be good in that role, as long as he comes back the same player after foot surgery.

GM Bob Quinn inherited Abdullah, so it really just matters what he thinks. Unfortunately, he didn't get a very large sample size after Abdullah was injured Week 2.

Look, this is one of the best running back classes coming out of college in recent history, so maybe there's a chance to upgrade there. The Lions certainly need to become a better running football team, but I think they can get there with a healthy Abdullah and Riddick in support.

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