10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Will we see more of Washington?

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: You will see Washington, Anthony, but you're also going to see Theo Riddick.

I expect Washington to see an uptick in carries this week against a Bears defense that ranks 30th in the NFL against the run, allowing 142.7 yards per game. Washington runs north and south, and that's a dynamic this offense could use a little more of, in my opinion. Don't be surprised at all if Washington gets 10-plus carries again this week.

We'll also see Riddick tote the rock in Chicago a fair amount because Jim Bob Cooter can't get into a situation where he becomes predictable when Riddick is in the game. They need balance between his carries and receptions.

Riddick has run the ball well at times this year. Let's not forget the Packers came into last week's contest ranked No. 1 in the NFL against the run. I'm not going to slam Riddick for one bad rushing performance against a defense built to stop the run when he was getting hit in the backfield before he could even get going most of the time.

20man: The injuries certainly don't help. Any defense is going to feel the loss of missing its two best players.

The stuff that's got me perplexed, however, is the miscommunication and blown coverage we've seen early on. There was actually a play in last week's game where three defenders were covering a tight end. How does that happen? We've seen too many big plays by opposing offenses in just three games.

The defense has played well in stretches – in the first half vs. the Colts, for three quarters vs. the Titans and in the second half last week vs. the Packers – but they have yet to play a complete 60-minute game.

Defenders need to be in the right spots and communicate better with each other. Austin can't be a voice in everyone's helmet telling them what to do.

Safety Glover Quin told me Wednesday that the defense needs to play faster and stop second-guessing itself. Just go out and ball.

Ultimately, everything that happens on defense is Austin's responsibility. He would be the first one to stand up and say the same thing. He certainly won't make excuses for the way the defense has played early on. They have to fix some issues, maybe simplify some things, and start playing better football.


Offense: I'd like to see a little more from receiver Golden Tate, but first and foremost, second-year guard Laken Tomlinson has to be better. He's one of the worst graded guards in the NFL by Pro Pootball Focus through the first three weeks. He's allowed two sacks, two quarterback hits and two hurries. He's missed some blocks in the run game as well. He's also been flagged for two holding penalties and a critical false start on a 3rd and 1 play last week in Green Bay. For an offensive line that's played fairly well so far this year, he's been the weakest link.

Defense: I'm going to go with the starting defensive tackle pairing of Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker. I don't think they've made enough of an impact in opposing backfields early on this season. Walker has eight tackles on the season, but just one quarterback hurry. Ngata has 1.5 sacks on the year, but just five tackles. Those two need to step up in the absence of Ziggy Ansah and make the job a little easier for some of those players filling in on the edge.

20man: That's yet to be determined, Trevor.

Game designations are released Friday at 4 p.m., but I can tell you that it isn't a good sign Ansah started the week by missing practice on Wednesday.

Typically, if a player is on the fence, he'll maybe practice Wednesday and use Thursday as a barometer to see how the injury responds. That's certainly not always the case, but it happens a lot.

Stay tuned for the practice (Wed. & Thurs.) and injury (Fri.) reports on detroitlions.com this week.

20man: Give Ebron credit for playing through some aches and pains the last couple weeks.

He's played through a back injury and is now dealing with an ankle injury, per Wednesday's practice report. He sat out practice Wednesday.

Ebron is currently the second-leading receiver on the team with 168 yards. He's shown toughness and has been a sure-handed playmaker. I expect that to continue as long as he's healthy enough to play.

We'll have to keep an eye on this latest ankle injury.

20man: In-season trades are pretty rare in the NFL. That's not to say they don't happen from time to time, but it's not like other sports where it's common practice. I guess my question would be: If they were going to do something like that, why wouldn't they have done it by now?

The fact that DeAndre Levy hasn't been placed on IR indicates to me the team still expects him back at some point. Levy (quad) and rookie Antwione Williams (hamstring) did not take part in practice on Wednesday.

Thurston Armbrister, Zaviar Gooden (practice squad) and Steve Longa (practice squad) are available to play alongside Tahir Whitehead and Kyle Van Noy if needed in Chicago on Sunday.

20man: Football is the ultimate team game. Just watch any amount of film and typically when one player screws up an assignment, either the play goes nowhere or defenders are chasing someone from behind.

It's the job of the coaches to come up with the game plans that put the players in the best positions to make plays. When given the opportunity, the player has to do his part and make the play.

All of that goes hand in hand, so when a team is struggling, it's really on both parties. The schemes have to be good, and the players have to make plays. Neither has happened enough for the Lions, especially on defense, through three games.

20man: Good for Joique.

I've always respected the way he kept working and overcame his draft status and practice-squad beginnings to forge out a nice couple years in Detroit. He was always pretty good to talk to and was good in the community.

From a football standpoint, I don't know what kind of shape he's in or how the Bears might use him. But if he gets the ball on Sunday, expect him to run downhill and make positive yards. That's what he did in Detroit.

20man: Those changes typically come from the league office on Wednesday afternoon. The Lions weren't informed of any change Wednesday, so I don't anticipate that stat will change.

20man: Tate has caught 13 passes in three games, but we haven't seen the explosive run-after-the-catch element to his game so far. He's averaging just 7.2 yards per catch.

Some of it is game plan, opportunity and how defenses have been playing him. Obviously, the Lions saw something they could exploit deep down the right side of the Packers defense with Marvin Jones Jr. last week. This week it could be Tate underneath.

Tate is good in space, and the Lions need to continue to find creative ways to get him into it. Because the run after the catch is such a big element of his game, it's hard to predict what kind of performance he'll have from week-to-week. I expect it to vary.

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