Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn 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. No surprise Glenn was extremely pleased with the defensive performance last week vs. the Cardinals. He said the thing that continues to impress him about his players and coaches is that no one worries about who's in or who's out, they just play and play hard.
Glenn said it was really gratifying to see all the work the defensive coaches put in game planning for Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and co. come to fruition just as they envisioned it. He said that's what coaching is all about.
2. Lions kicker Riley Patterson was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after making three field goals and three extra points in Detroit's 30-12 win over Arizona last week. Fipp said Patterson has done a really nice job since coming over from New England's practice squad, but was also quick to compliment the entire kicking operation for being part of Patterson's success. It's really been a team effort in that regard. Patterson said the exact same thing when he spoke to the media on Wednesday.
3. Tim Boyle could be starting at quarterback for the Lions Sunday in Atlanta if Jared Goff doesn't get off the Reserve/COVID-19 list in time. Lynn said he's been impressed by Boyle's performance the last three weeks in practice and said there will be no restrictions within the game plan for him. Lynn said he's excited to see how Boyle performs after three weeks of really good practice, if he's called upon.
4. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye is third in the NFL with six interceptions and he's been one of Detroit's most consistent performers on defense all season. Glenn said the next step in Oruwariye's career progression is to become a shutdown cornerback, a player who can square up against the No. 1 receiver every week.
Glenn said there aren't many of those players in the league. He mentioned Jalen Ramsey and Marcus Lattimore as examples, but he believes Oruwariye can get there if he continues to work. The ball skills are certainly already there.
5. How many teams around the league have the punter spending time on the jugs machine? In an effort to become a better holder in his second season, Jack Fox has spent countless hours on the jugs machine improving his hands, and also perfecting the placement of the hold to make sure the entire kicking operation runs smoother. Fipp said Fox has really improved a lot in that department over the last year, and it's a credit to his work ethic.
6. Guard Jonah Jackson was named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl. Lynn said what he likes about Jackson most is his aggressiveness and knowing how to be aggressive but not dirty. Lynn said that is a valuable mentality to have in an offensive lineman, and that it's contagious to that group as a whole.
7. Glenn said Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, who was previously the offensive coordinator in Tennessee, has brought a lot of the Titans' principles to Atlanta. The Falcons want to run the ball and be physical. They run a lot of 21 and 13 personnel. Glenn said his defenders better "buckle their chin strap" this week against this offense.
8. With T.J. Hockenson out the last two weeks and not returning this season, the Lions have played with undrafted rookies Brock Wright and Shane Zylstra at tight end. The Lions are living through some aggressive mistakes, as Lynn described it, with those rookies, but they'll be better players for it. Maybe one of those guys really shows he can be a No. 2 guy here at the position behind Hockenson.
9. Cordarrelle Patterson is a multi-dimensional weapon for the Falcons' offense. He has at least 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards with 10 total touchdowns. Glenn said the Falcons do a good job mixing up their personnel packages and moving him around, but Patterson is someone the Lions will be sure to keep tabs on all game long.
10. Fipp was in the Christmas spirit Thursday. Because of COVID-19 protocols, the Lions have conducted media sessions in a garage in the back of their Allen Park training facility. It can get a little cold in there from time to time, so Fipp gave a few media members space heaters for Christmas, myself included. Strong effort by Santa Fipp!