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FOUR DOWNS: Rookie Ragnow solid in debut


All eyes were on Detroit's first-round pick, Frank Ragnow, in his NFL debut Friday night in Oakland.

"It's a preseason game, and everyone says it's just the preseason, but for me, it was as cool as it gets," Ragnow said after the game.

Ragnow got extensive work into the second quarter, even after the other starters upfront were pulled after two series. As debut's go, Ragnow's was very solid.

"I think definitely it helps to get all the jitters out and kind of get into a rhythm," he said. "I'm a rookie, I need all the reps I can get. I'll take anything I can get."

Ragnow has shown throughout camp to have a terrific ability to anchor in pass protection. He's been really good in one-on-one and team drills, and was good in those protections Friday night.

Where he really excelled, however, was in the run-blocking department. He had a nice block to spring running back LeGarrette Blount for a 13-yard run early. He later plowed the way for Ameer Abdullah on the first Lions touchdown of the year, a one-yard run.

The plan was to play Ragnow more than all the other starters upfront to get his feet wet and for him to gain some much-needed experience.

Consider that mission accomplished.


One area where the Lions struggled at times last year was making opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket on a consistent basis with their pass rush.

Ziggy Ansah led the Lions with 12 sacks a year ago, but nine of those came in three contests. Anthony Zettel was second with 6.5 sacks, but no other Lions player had more than three. The team's 35 sacks in 16 games last season ranked 20th.

It's the preseason, Ansah didn't play, and teams aren't scheming against one another, but the lack of pass rush vs. the Raiders was a little concerning at times.

Matt Patricia's defense is expected to be very multiple based on matchups throughout the preseason. It was pretty vanilla Friday night, but still, coaches want to see players win on talent and technique, and force their will on an opponent.

"It doesn't really matter what we're running from a scheme standpoint," Patricia said. "We still want to see the fundamentals and basics of what we're trying to do."

The Lions didn't record a single sack in the game, and had only one quarterback hit (Alex Barrett).

On the flip side, Oakland recorded four sacks and eight quarterbacks hits on Lions quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Jake Rudock.

"It's just like anything else, we have to get better every week," Lions defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr. said. "It's every facet. Give credit to Oakland, but as a group we have to get better and keep chopping wood the rest of the preseason."


After the starters leave the game in the preseason, coaches and fans want to see the young players given an opportunity to step up and shine in the moment.

Doing so can make the difference between the active roster and the practice squad, or not having a job at all.

A couple youngsters who flashed Friday night were tight end Hakeem Valles and receiver Brandon Powell.

Valles was on the Lions' practice squad last season before getting a promotion late in the year. He's been a pretty steady playmaker throughout camp, and had a couple nice third down catches vs. Oakland.

Powell, an undrafted rookie, was the Lions' leading receiver on the night. He caught five of his six targets for 34 yards, including a highlight-reel 12-yard grab where he pinned the ball to his leg and maintained control.


It doesn't count on the career record, but Patricia has worked his entire life to have the opportunity to coach at the highest level of football. Friday, that dream came true, even if it was just the preseason.

It's too bad Patricia didn't have a chance to really enjoy it.

"I really wish I could have, like, pulled myself outside of myself and enjoyed it, but unfortunately, you're just trying to dial in to the moment and obviously I have a lot of work to do," he said after the game.

The NFL stage is a big jump from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where Patricia got his coaching start back in 1996.

The Lions fell to the Raiders 16-10, which Patricia wasn't happy about after the game, and it had him looking at the task ahead of him, rather than feeling nostalgic about his first time as a head coach.

"Look, every opportunity we have to go out on the field and perform, we have to do it at a high level," he said. "It doesn't matter what it is, whether it's practice or the game, or we're going against another team, or going against ourselves.

"So, certainly we look at it from that standpoint, that this was an opportunity for us to go out there and try to perform our best. We obviously have a long way to go. We give the Raiders credit, they did a great job tonight too with some of the things that they had from their standpoint. So, we just have to try to improve."

View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders.

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