10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Will Swift see an increased role coming out of the bye?

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 have to start tackling better and stopping the run. They're allowing on average 170.3 yards per game to opponents on the ground. You can't win football games consistently enough when that number is that high.

Not only is it demoralizing to watch a team physically beat you up in the run game, but it also means the opponent is controlling the tempo and time of possession.

Giving up that many yards on the ground also doesn't allow the defense to get into good down and distance situations, where they can pin their ears back and rush the passer. Whether it's putting an extra man in the box or changing up some personnel upfront, Detroit has to find a way to stop the run better moving forward.

20man: That's one area where I thought they kind of missed the mark this offseason as well, not adding a difference maker on the edge to pair with defensive end Trey Flowers. They signed defensive tackle Nick Williams and linebackers Jamie Collins Sr. and Reggie Ragland, but those players aren't pure pass rushers.

Detroit didn't add a pure pass rusher until Julian Okwara in the third round of the draft, and it's an area where they've struggled early on. Detroit's five sacks rank at the bottom of the league, and they were bottom third in total pressures heading into the bye week.

The coaches and players on defense believe they just need to put themselves in more situations where they can rush the passer and we'll see those numbers improve. We'll see if that's the case or not.

20man: It's more just a product of what side rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah plays, which has been left corner vs. Green Bay and New Orleans and some right corner vs. Arizona. He's not traveling with the top guy. The top guy is coming to his side more as teams probably want to attack the rookie more than they do the veteran Desmond Trufant or second-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye.

Okudah's gotten better with every rep. I would expect that to continue as the game slows down for him. He could have a big role Sunday with Trufant currently dealing with a hamstring injury that's kept him out of practice so far this week.

20man: Rookie wide receiver Quintez Cephus is just in a situation where he's behind three veteran receivers in Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola. Plus tight end T.J. Hockenson is emerging in year two as a legit weapon in the passing game and rookie running back D'Andre Swift has become a big weapon there too.

Cephus is behind some pretty good players, and there's only one ball to go around. If he's smart, he'll keep his head down and keep learning from the vets, so when his number is called again, he'll be even more ready than he was the first two weeks filling in for Golladay. He's the only wide receiver signed through this season, so his time is coming sooner rather than later. He just needs to be patient.

20man: Swift is already playing a bigger and bigger role in the passing game every week. He's been a nice matchup weapon for the Lions out of the backfield.

Swift missed a lot of training camp, and I don't think Darrell Bevell and Co. wanted to put too much on the rookie running back's plate early on. Now he's got four weeks under his belt and a bye week to self-evaluate. Patricia said the Lions are going to come out of the bye with a simpler plan on both offense and defense, so I could certainly see that meaning an uptick in usage for Swift.

It really comes down to which of Detroit's backs gets the hot hand early, but I still expect Adrian Peterson to be the lead back moving forward.

20man: Rookie defensive tackle John Penisini is coming off his best performance against New Orleans, where he had five tackles in 22 snaps. Like any rookie, he's having more of an impact the more he picks up on scheme and techniques.

He's earned a spot in the defensive tackle rotation, and his snaps have increased in every game this season, which is a good sign. He's still got a lot of work to do, but he's on a nice trajectory and will continue to play a role inside on defense.

20man: A little of both. There have been some breakdowns upfront where quarterback Matthew Stafford hasn't had a chance against the rush. Those breakdowns need to be corrected.

Stafford's on pace to have the highest sack percentage of his career, so I think the pressure has gotten to him a little bit. There are times he's rushing through progressions and getting a little sloppy with his footwork.

As for the back injury from last year, it's not an issue at all.

Hopefully, this bye week allowed them to clean up some of the protection and footwork issues they've been seeing and we see a much better operation in the pass game all around moving forward.

20man: Jacksonville hasn't won in a month, and Atlanta (who the Lions play next week) is 0-5 and just fired their head coach and GM.

Detroit's only focused on the Jaguars, which they should be, but these are two road games where the Lions should be favored to win. Does that guarantee anything? No. But I'd say the Green Bay game is the only one of Detroit's first four games where I thought they were thoroughly beat and didn't have a real chance to win that game. Every other game has been close. Detroit found a way to make the key plays to beat Arizona. They failed to do so against Chicago and New Orleans.

I think this team knows how important these next two weeks are to get to 3-3 and back in the conversation in the NFC heading into a big game at home in three weeks against Indianapolis, the only team with a winning record the Lions play in their next seven contests.

20man: We're starting to see that a little bit with Swift's ability to line up in the slot or shift out of the backfield in the passing game. Swift ranks third among all running backs in yards per route run on non-screen plays behind only Kamara and Green Bay's Aaron Jones.

Opponents are taking notice of Swift as a pass catcher and will have to continue to account for him, which could lead to one less run defender in the box focused on Peterson or Kerryon Johnson in the run game. I could certainly expect to see more of that moving forward.

20man: Left guard Joe Dahl returned to practice this week. He's been on IR the last three weeks with a groin injury. The Lions now have 20 days to activate him to the roster. I'd expect that to happen soon, if not this week sometime, certainly by next week in Atlanta.

Okwara is good to go. He wasn't on the practice report to begin the week. The Lions need a little more out of him moving forward.

Cornerback Justin Coleman didn't return to practice this week and remains on IR. We won't see him yet.

As for the Golladay extension, things have been rather quiet on that front. I haven't heard anything either way. I thought it might be done by now, but there are a lot of financial factors that could be in play here behind the scenes.

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