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10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Why did Lions bring Johnson back to practice?

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 agree. This roster has some impact guys and young players to build around (i.e. Matthew Stafford, Trey Flowers, Kenny Golladay, Frank Ragnow, Kerryon Johnson, Tracy Walker, etc.), whereas the 2008 roster was really devoid of talent all around.

This roster needs a few more impact players, especially on defense. When you look around the league on the rosters of the really good teams right now, you can list at least 10 legitimate impact playmakers right away.

The Lions need an impact pass rusher opposite Flowers and another dynamic playmaker in the back seven to significantly improve the defense, in my opinion.

Offensively, they'll have to address the receiver position with Golladay being the only player signed through 2020.

This roster has talent. Detroit's led in every game they've played this year. They just need a few more playmakers via free agency and the draft that make more impact plays that help teams win close games.

20man: Kerryon Johnson has played the equivalent of one season (17 games) so far in his first two seasons in the league due to injury.

He's shown terrific flashes, but he's still a work in progress. By bringing him back to practice, the Lions are giving a young player at least 21 more days of practice to get better.

Personally, I don't see an issue with him playing, as long as he's got a 100 percent clean bill of health with his knee. If it's 90 percent, he doesn't play, shut him down.

If healthy, he's still a young back, and there's still a lot he can learn playing in the last two games.

Save him for next year, some might say. Tank for a draft pick. Teams just don't operate that way. Who knows what next year looks like, or what position Detroit will be in at running back. If a player is healthy and can play, especially if he's a young player like Johnson, play.

20man: That's still a ways off, and re-signings and franchise tags will obviously be in play before guys hit the open market, but this does look to be a pretty good class of pass rushers hitting free agency, a list that could include names like: Jadeveon Clowney, Chris Jones, Yannick Ngakoue, Bud Dupree, Shaq Barrett and some other accomplished rushers.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Lions spend both free agent and draft capital on pass rush help. Detroit's 24 sacks on the year ranks just 28th in the league.

20man: Scarbrough will be an exclusive right player this offseason even if he's not under contract for the 2020 season, so either way, if the Lions want him back, he'll be back.

I think he and Johnson have different enough skillsets to complement one another in the backfield. Scarbrough is a much tougher and more physical runner. Johnson is a true three-down player, who is much better in the passing game than Scarbrough is.

For me, J.D. McKissic would be the No. 3. I like what he brings to the table in a more all-around role.

20man: That's the great mystery of the 2019 Detroit Lions season.

If it was just one area, it would be an easier fix, but all three phases have been the culprit at times this season. Either the defense can't hold a lead late, or the offense can't make the one extra play to extend or retake a lead, and even special teams has played a role with some missed kicks, penalties and particularly the kick-return touchdown allowed in Washington.

At some point someone has to step up and make a play at a critical time. That's where maybe we look at the roster and say they need a few more of those reliable playmakers across the board.

20man: Running back comes to mind.

This was a team that went 70 straight games without a 100-yard rusher before Johnson arrived. I think we can all agree he's given the team a consistent threat of a 100-yard rusher every time he steps on the field. Him being more available is the big key moving forward.

It's way too early, but Scarbrough looks to have something. Sunday will be another good test for him against the Vikings' defense. With Johnson, Scarbrough, McKissic and anyone else they might draft or sign, I think we can look at that position and say this team is much better off than it was two years ago.

20man: Injuries to both feet the last two years look to have taken a toll on Daniels, though it finally appears he's moved on from the foot injury that kept him out of five games here in Detroit this year. He isn't on the practice report this week. He's got four games to show he can be an impact player and the Packers weren't wrong to move on from him.

Right now, Daniels has four tackles and one sack in seven games. That's probably not the impact the Lions were hoping for, but again, injuries have played a role, and now he's got four games left to make more of an impact.

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He's had an up and down year. Opposing passers have a 110.0 passer rating and three touchdowns throwing his way this year. He's missed the last couple games with a rib injury.

I think his return will depend some on how the team views rookie Amani Oruwariye and his readiness for an expanded role, along with what's out there in free agency and how they view the position in the draft. Teams should always being looking to upgrade the roster, and Detroit will probably look to do that at cornerback this offseason.

20man: In your scenario, I'd hope some quarterback-needy teams are at the top of the draft, but it would obviously depend on what I'm being asked to give up. I don't think this roster is at a point where I give up the farm for one player thinking it makes all the difference.

I do, however, think Chase Young is going to be a pretty easy evaluation for scouts. He's likely to be an impact player right away, much like we're seeing with Nick Bosa.

Knowing it's a big need for this team this offseason to find another player to pair with Flowers and Devon Kennard who can consistently rush the passer on his own, I would probably make an attempt if the price fits.

20man: Find a way to finish games and make more of the plays needed to win close games. For me, that starts with bringing in more playmakers on the roster.

Patricia said this week that crossing the final inch and finding a way to win these close games is the next step for this team. I'd agree. That applies to both the players on the field and the coaches putting them in better spots to cross that last inch.

I think if this team is going to be a contender next season, they need to find a handful of playmakers that fit this scheme and fill the void of needing a few more playmakers on the roster.

20man: Five years is way too long for the NFL, in my opinion, especially in a league that sees worst to first on a yearly basis.

Three years is the timeline most teams will probably look to. Next year will be three years for GM Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia together. I think significant improvements in record and play should be expected in a third season. Challenging for a division title should be the ground floor in terms of expectations in 2020.

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