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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. Glenn and Johnson addressed the fact that they are candidates for head coaching vacancies around the league. Both have four requests. Per NFL rules, Johnson and Glenn cannot interview virtually for jobs until after the Wild Card round of the playoffs and must wait until the week of Jan. 22 for an in-person interview. Both coordinators were flattered by the opportunity, but said their focus this week is solely on the matchup with the Rams.

2. Glenn said the big emphasis this week for his defense has been tackling. He's shown clips of Rams running back Kyren Williams and wide receiver Puka Nacua and their ability to break tackles. Glenn said getting population to the football will be extra critical this week. Glenn said they have to be the best tackling team in the playoffs and also have to watch out for Williams' stiff arm.

3. Aaron Donald (8.0 sacks) and Kobie Turner (9.0) are the best defensive tackle tandem the Lions have faced all season, per Johnson. A lot of the premier defensive line talent Detroit's faced this year has been on the edge but these two are a handful in the middle. Johnson said he thinks he has a good plan for slowing them down.

4. Who could fill the punt return role if Kalif Raymond (knee) isn't able to play Sunday night? Fipp mentioned Amon-Ra St. Brown, Donovan Peoples-Jones and practice squad wide receiver Maurice Alexander, who had a 95-yard punt-return touchdown for the Lions in the preseason. Fipp said Jameson Williams is further down the line in that rotation.

5. C.J. Gardner-Johnson (52 reps), Kerby Joseph (49) and Ifeatu Melifonwu (45) all played significant snaps at safety for the Lions Week 18 vs. Minnesota. Glenn said he liked the rotation between the three. He also said they have some wrinkles set up for each player.

6. Johnson said the run game will have to be better Sunday than it has been the last two weeks against Dallas (125 yards) and Minnesota (70). That's been a point of emphasis with his players this week.

7. Fipp is one of the few coaches on this staff who have won a Super Bowl. He said the biggest key is having narrow focus in the playoffs. It's all about finding a way to win one game. Don't worry about being hesitant to show a look for the next opponent. Leave everything on the table to beat the opponent that week. Don't think of anything else. Then do the same thing the following week if you get a chance to move on.

8. We have seen both the snap count and effectiveness of veteran edge rusher Romeo Okwara tick up over the last few weeks. Glenn said he'll continue to give Okwara reps and is happy for him. Glenn said he thinks a big reason why the production is up is due to him feeling much better about being over the Achilles injury.

9. If the Lions don't have rookie tight end Sam LaPorta Sunday, it will be a big loss. Johnson acknowledged that Thursday. Brock Wright and James Mitchell will be asked to step up, but Johnson said they'll have a little bit different roles than LaPorta just because of the different skill sets. Johnson referred to Wright as 'quietly a key cog' for this offense.

10. Kicker Michael Badgley has missed a couple extra points over the last three weeks, but Fipp didn't seem concerned when asked about it Thursday. He said he'd be more concerned if it was a bad habit developing with Badgley or if a consistent non-strike was developing in his mechanics, but that hasn't been the case. The last one was just a mis-hit and Fipp didn't seem concerned about it.

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