Skip to main content

10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Where do injured Lions stand heading into MNF?

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: They're both playing pretty well, but one reason why the Packers have been good on defense to begin 2019 is because Mike Pettine's unit has produced a sack, hit or pressure on 30.1 percent of opposing quarterback dropbacks without having to blitz, according to ESPN's NFL Matchup, which is the highest percentage in the NFL.

Edge rushers Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith have produced 10.5 sacks and 21 quarterback hits through five games. Preston Smith ranks fifth in sacks (5.5) and tied for fourth in quarterback hits with 10. Za'Darius Smith is tied for sixth in sacks (5.0) and tied for second in quarterback hits with 11.

The ability to pressure the quarterback and still play coverage behind it has been one of the big keys to Green Bay's success on defense. It's something Detroit will have to be ready for Monday night.

20man: I think this is a defense that's built an identity early on this year playing tough man coverage.

I thought they really showed the blue print of how to play Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, and the Colts copied it to a tee last week in their win over KC.

Detroit is blitzing less than any team in the league, just a little more than 11 percent of the time. They trust their defensive line to disrupt the passer, and they play man coverage behind it. They have the corners and safeties to do it. I'd expect more of the same Monday in Green Bay.

Mahomes was able to make some plays with his legs because of that coverage scheme a couple weeks ago, so Detroit will have to make some adjustments in that regard because Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers can make plays with his legs too.

20man: We'll just have to wait and see how the Packers list Adams on their injury report.

I think head coach Matt Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, and really every defensive coach, enter a game wanting to stop the run. There's nothing more demoralizing for a defense than watching a team run up and down the field, controlling the pace of play and the time of possession.

Jones is coming off a four-touchdown game in Dallas. He leads the league with eight touchdowns on the year. Green Bay runs a stretch and zone running scheme that really seems to fit his running style.

The Packers have rushed for 120-plus yards in two of the last four games, and averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry in the process. They'll come into Monday night wanting to establish the run. It will be up to the Lions to force them out of it.

20man: This has been a pretty big week for defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand in that he participated in Wednesday's padded practice and did some contact stuff with the elbow injury he's been rehabbing since training camp.

Thursday's absence from practice was probably more of a maintenance thing to see how the elbow reacted to Wednesday's increased workload. No point in overdoing it with someone who hasn't seen a lot of contact in awhile. The Lions certainly don't want him to suffer a setback. The fact that he was back taking part in Friday's walkthrough was a good sign.

The Lions didn't put Hand on IR to start the year, so that tells me they probably figured this was about the timeline for his return. His increased practice workload is a good sign to me that he's close to returning.

20man: Cornerback Darius Slay was still listed as limited on this week's practice reports, but he was doing considerably more during the open portion of practice than he was before the Kansas City game.

The bye came at a good time for Slay, and given what I've seen from his participation and demeanor during the open practice sessions, I'd be a little surprised if he didn't suit up and play Monday.

20man: Both players have a year left on their current contracts. GM Bob Quinn doesn't usually re-sign players with a year left on their deal midseason. That's usually an offseason or early season task for Quinn. Not to say it can't happen, but it wouldn't fit the pattern.

20man: Running back Kerryon Johnson is playing at a high level right now, and seems to have a ton of confidence in Bevell's system. He's been the bell-cow the last two weeks with 20-plus carries vs. Philadelphia and Kansas City, which he loves. He's on pace for 1,000 yards (1,004) for the season.

Green Bay has allowed at least 122 rushing yards in each of their last four games.

Green Bay ranks 26th in the NFL against the run, allowing 138.2 yards per game, so I could certainly see a situation where Johnson rattles off 100 yards for a second straight game and for the fourth time in his young career.

20man: The statistics would suggest otherwise.

Linebacker Christian Jones has done a pretty good job in coverage. He's allowed just 63 receiving yards and no touchdowns with the ball thrown in his primary coverage, per Pro Football Focus.

Jones offers a little more versatility because of his size. He stands up to the run a little better and offers something as a pass rusher (two sacks on the year).

Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin is playing a really big role on special teams and making a huge impact there. He leads the NFL with seven special teams tackles in four games.

I think both players have defined roles early on, and are doing well within them.

20man: Another player for which the bye seemed to come at a good time. That was a scary concussion tight end T.J. Hockenson suffered a couple weeks ago, but he's been back at practice and doing everything allowed during the open period. That's part of the final stages of getting cleared in the return-to-play protocol.

As long as Hockenson doesn't have any symptoms or setbacks over the weekend, he looks to be on pace to be cleared and in the lineup Monday night.

20man: That's the right formula on defense, for sure. It's proven to be a winning formula in past matchups with the Packers and Rodgers.

I'd add that Detroit also needs to establish some semblance of a run game on offense, or Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith can wreak havoc. Detroit also needs to take better care of the football and take advantage of red zone opportunities.

Related Content