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NOTEBOOK: How Lions' rookies fared in preseason debut

A big part of the preseason is getting young players acclimated to the NFL.

Detroit's 2023 rookie class got their first taste of game action during Friday's preseason opener, a 21-16 win over the Giants.

Running back Jahmyr Gibbs showed off some of the skills that made him Detroit's first pick (No. 12 overall) in this year's NFL Draft. He played just two series and had a couple nice runs in limited action. He had one run for eight yards and another where he eluded a tackle in the backfield to get a positive gain. He also caught a pass over the middle for 18 yards.

Linebacker Jack Campbell didn't start but came in early at the MIKE and played into the third quarter. He led the team with four tackles and defended a pass. He did a nice job scraping off blocks on a couple tackles and played downhill.

Tight end Sam LaPorta dropped an early pass on a 4th and 1 play that would have given Detroit a first down on their second series of the game. It was his only target on the night.

On the second Giants series of the game, New York quarterback Tyrod Taylor was chased out of the pocket and flipped a ball forward in the flat to wide receiver Cole Beasley who was absolutely smacked by defensive back Brian Branch. Branch read the play and came at Beasley like a freight train for a tackle for loss of two yards. Branch, a second-round pick by the Lions, has been one of Detroit's most consistent performers on defense all camp. He finished Friday night with three tackles and a tackle for loss in about a quarter's worth of snaps.

Defensive lineman Brodric Martin got good penetration on a 3rd and 2 play early in the second quarter and assisted Campbell on a tackle for a 1-yard gain that set up a 4th and 1 the Giants weren't able to convert.

Colby Sorsdal started at right guard. It's tough to evaluate his play without watching the replay.

Wide receiver Antoine Green had three catches for 36 yards, including a 24-yard catch and run in the second quarter.

All and all it was a solid showing for Detroit's rookie draft picks.

"I felt like those young guys came out and I didn't feel like it was too big for them," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said after the game. "They made plays."


The Lions surprised former All-Pro tackle and current radio color analyst Lomas Brown with the news that he'll be inducted into the Pride of the Lions during halftime of their homecoming game Oct. 30, on Monday Night Football against the Las Vegas Raiders.

"I was just speechless," Brown said of being surprised during Friday's game with the announcement. "It's an honor to go up there with some of the greats that have ever played this game and for me to get my name memorialized, it's just unbelievable. I really appreciate this honor."

Brown joins 19 other all-time Lions greats featured on the Pride of the Lions, which was first unveiled in 2009. Linebacker Chris Spielman was most recently inducted in 2021.


Quarterback Nate Sudfeld had a terrific opportunity to make a big impression Friday night getting the start at quarterback with Jared Goff having the night off. The start comes just one day after the Lions signed veteran Teddy Bridgewater to compete with Sudfeld to be Goff's backup.

Things didn't start well for Sudfeld as he was hit attempting his first pass attempt and had it picked off, though Campbell said after the game that play was more on the coaches than Sudfeld. He threw another interception in the second quarter on a throw behind wide receiver Jameson Williams over the middle.

Sudfeld finished 15-of-28 passing for 194 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and a 45.8 passer rating. He threw a nice two-point conversion pass to Williams in the third quarter.

"I would say there was more positive than negative on Nate," Campbell said.


Bridgewater watched Friday's game in street clothes. He is expected to start practicing next week and play in the second preseason game next Saturday against Jacksonville.

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