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. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts led all quarterbacks in rushing yards (784) and rushing touchdowns (10) last season. Glenn said they certainly have to account for Hurts' ability to hurt them with his feet, but he also isn't going to ask Aidan Hutchinson, Charles Harris or any of his other pass rushers to sit back or play timid worrying about Hurts' scramble abilities. Glenn said they are going after Hurts.
2. The Lions have some juggling to do upfront with starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai going on injured reserve. We'll see if the Frank Ragnow injury is also a factor as the week progresses. The team has worked through a number of different options for their starting five upfront. As Johnson explained it Thursday, the goal is to get the best five on the field. Offensive lines are only as strong as their weakest link. But what about the argument of staying strong and comfortable at four spots? Chemistry is also a factor when we start talking about moving guys to different positions. Johnson said all that is being taken into account and whatever they decide, they'll feel good about the five that start Sunday.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Wednesday, September 7, 2022.
3. The Lions are replacing four players who played the most special teams snaps for them a year ago. But Fipp pointed out they did the same thing last year. That's just how special teams works. Fipp said he really won't know what he has on special teams until Sunday and the subsequent weeks.
4. Philadelphia rushed for 236 yards and four touchdowns in a 44-6 win over Detroit last season. Glenn said he and the players on his defense still here from last year's team take that personally, and they are entering Sunday knowing that stopping the Eagles' run game is a priority. Glenn thinks they've made the proper scheme and technique adjustments, along with adding talent on that side of the ball, to be much more competitive against Philadelphia's No. 1 ranked rushing attack from a year ago.
5. Running back D’Andre Swift has a goal to rush for 1,000 yards and have 1,000 receiving yards. I asked Johnson Thursday what he thought about those goals.
"He is explosive enough to do that," he said. "That would put him in rare company. He is the type of explosive athlete who could do it, and I do think we have the pieces around him that could help him get there."
If Swift can achieve those lofty goals, that means this offense is doing some really good things this season.
6. Fipp wouldn't divulge who his kick returner will be Sunday with the team moving on from last year's returner, Godwin Igwebuike. Fipp did say he's excited about the option they are going to use. Just a guess from me, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's wide receiver Kalif Raymond, who ranked fourth in the NFL in punt-return average last season.
7. Is rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriquez a starter Week 1? Glenn danced around that question a bit, but did say Rodriguez was going to play and play a lot. He's been one of the bright spots for the Lions' defense in training camp.
8. Johnson said second-year tackle Penei Sewell is light years ahead of where he was this time last season. That's expected for a player going into his second season, but Sewell has looked really good and it wouldn't be surprising if he starts to get some national recognition this season.
9. Kicker Austin Seibert showed up on the injury report Wednesday with a groin injury. It doesn't appear to be too serious, however. Fipp said Seibert did everything he was asked to do in Wednesday's practice, despite being listed as limited, and Fipp said Seibert will do everything in Thursday's practice as well.
10. The first few games are a feeling-out period for all three phases of the game. That's especially true for the offense, according to Johnson. He has a pretty good idea where they are strong and how they can attack teams, but he said he won't know for sure until the game action begins and adjustments have to be made on the fly.