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10 takeaways from Glenn, Johnson & Fipp

Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp spoke to the media Thursday as they do every week. Here are my 10 biggest takeaways from those media sessions:

1. Johnson said Baltimore's defense is the strongest they've seen to date, especially up the middle at defensive tackle, linebacker and safety. He said Sunday will be a tough test for his third-ranked offense.

2. Glenn said one of the big differences between the Baltimore offense run by former OC Greg Roman vs. the current offense under Todd Monken is that Monken is asking quarterback Lamar Jackson to be more of a pocket passer. Glenn said Jackson is a 'growing thrower.' The Ravens' run game is still one of the best in the league and Jackson is still very dangerous as a runner even though there aren't as many designed runs for him in this offense.

3. Punter Jack Fox is one of the best in the NFL at kickoffs but the Lions had place kicker Riley Patterson kick off in Tampa Bay last week. Fipp said Patterson has really worked on that part of his game and improving his leg strength. They viewed last week as an opportunity to get him some work doing it in case something happens later in the year and Fox isn't able to. Now Patterson will have some comfort and confidence having already done it this season.

4. One key Sunday will be the red zone. Baltimore's defense ranks No. 2 in the NFL in the red zone, allowing a touchdown on just one of four drives that enter inside their 20-yard line. The Lions were 0-for-2 in the red zone last week in Tampa Bay and Johnson said they have to do a better job finding a way to punch it into the end zone this week.

5. Detroit's defense could get second-year defensive lineman Josh Paschal back from IR this week after he suffered a knee injury the second week of the season during practice. Glenn said Paschal is a really good run defender and pocket pusher and it will be good to get him back if he's up this week. Glenn said the plan would be to ease Paschal back like they've done with all their injured players making a return from an extended time away.

6. Sunday's game features two head coaches who heavily emphasize and work on special teams play in Baltimore's John Harbaugh and Detroit's Dan Campbell. Fipp said he wouldn't be surprised in a game like this against two evenly matched opponents if a big play on special teams helps determine the outcome.

7. Detroit had to get away from their run game last week against the Buccaneers, relying more on quarterback Jared Goff and the passing game to move the football. Johnson said they have to be better running the ball this week. He thinks they can after cleaning some things up, but he also liked the fact that last week showed him how versatile they can be and how they can lean on the run or the pass if needed. That's a sign of a good offense.

8. Veteran linebackers Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes are playing at a really high level for the Lions' defense. Glenn said the two have become really close friends and are like-minded people. That's why they play so well together.

9. Fipp said he has a lot of confidence in punt returner Kalif Raymond to use his discretion on when to use a fair catch and when not to. Raymond returned one last week from his own two-yard line, but Fipp didn't mind the play because it was a 60-plus-yard punt where Raymond had room to run. Fipp said he doesn't want to take anything away from Raymond unless it gets to a point where they're having some negative plays and losing the field position battle.

10. Johnson said losing running back David Montgomery is a big blow but he's confident someone else will step up whether that's Jahmyr Gibbs, Craig Reynolds (who returned to practice Thursday) or someone else. He said guys have been stepping up in the wake of injuries all year so far and he doesn't expect anything different on Sunday.

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