5 things to watch: Lions vs. Patriots

The Detroit Lions kick off the preseason portion of their schedule tonight at Ford Field vs. the New England Patriots. It’s unlikely we see the starters very long, if at all, especially after the good work those players got participating in joint practices in Allen Park the last few days. That means there should be plenty of playing time available for the youngsters and those players fighting for roster spots.

Here are five things to look out for in tonight’s preseason opener:

DARRELL BEVELL’S OFFENSE

What will it look like? How will he mix personnel groupings? How much will the quarterbacks play under center vs. the shotgun? How much will the tight end position be featured?

Bevell’s wants his offense to be multiple and attack teams in a number of different ways. There’s been an emphasis on running the football in some of his offenses in the past, but he’s also been adamant this offseason he wants to be explosive in the passing game and take some shots downfield.

Tonight we start to see what some of the base principles look like in the new offense.

ROOKIE WATCH

This is the first opportunity to see tight end T.J. Hockenson, linebacker Jahlani Tavai and the rest of the rookies in their first game action.

Hockenson and Tavai, especially, have played big roles on offense and defense, respectively, throughout the first two weeks of camp.

What can third-round pick Will Harris do at safety? Can one of the young receivers step up and make a good first impression? Can Ty Johnson’s speed be a factor at running back and on special teams? Can an undrafted rookie catch the coaches' eyes?

While some lament the preseason, it’s an important time for this crop of rookies to acclimate themselves to the league before the games start counting for real in September.

BACKUP QB JOB

Tom Savage and David Fales are likely to see a lot of playing time tonight. Savage has received most of the second-team reps in training camp, but the preseason is going to be a big part of the evaluation process. Both players will be given an opportunity to prove they can be Matthew Stafford’s backup in 2019.

Neither player has a ton of regular-season experience. Savage has played in 13 career games and Fales three. The preseason will be a good opportunity for both players to get a lot of reps and see who emerges.

DEFENSIVE LINE DEPTH

Defensive linemen Damon Harrison Sr., Mike Daniels, Da’Shawn Hand and Trey Flowers haven’t done much in camp, and we aren’t likely to see them in action tonight.

That will give a lot of players vying for those last couple roster spots along the defensive line an opportunity for more reps and some extra opportunities to make a play that could improve their roster status.

At some point, however, it would behoove the Lions to get some of their top defenders upfront on the practice field and into some game action before the start of the regular season.

View photos from Day 11 of Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage.

PATRICIA WATCH

The Lions’ second-year head coach has been rehabbing a lower leg injury. He has been getting around the facility with the help of a scooter and out at practice on an ATV. Will his leg injury force him to coach from the booth tonight?

“I’m working with our doctors here to try to figure out what’s best for myself to be safe on the sideline from that standpoint,” Patricia said Tuesday. “We’re working through all of that. I don’t think I’ll be riding the ATV around unfortunately on the sideline. We just have to figure out how I can have some mobility and be in a position where I’m not kind of in the mix of any sort of situation.”

It sounds like Patricia wants to try and be on the sideline for his team’s first preseason game.

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