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TWENTYMAN: How Lions rookies have fared through first four games 

The eight rookies on the Detroit Lions active roster are a quarter of the way through their first NFL seasons and are building up good experience.

The bye week will be a good opportunity for them to rest up, both physically and mentally. With four games in the books, let's take a look at the impact Detroit's first-year players have had through the first quarter:

1. Cornerback Jeff Okudah, first-round pick

The No. 3 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft has played in three games with two starts. He's recorded 16 tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception. His two starts came when veteran Desmond Trufant was injured (hamstring). He played a reserve role when Trufant was healthy Week 4. Okudah missed the opener with a hamstring injury.

He's been credited with allowing 14 receptions on 19 targets for 238 yards, but has yet to give up a touchdown in his coverage. Opposing passers have a 93.6 passer rating throwing his way.

He's had some up and downs, but overall he's been fine. He's shown an ability and willingness to be physical in the run game too. Trufant left last week's game with a hamstring injury and did not return. We'll see if Okudah steps into a bigger role again coming out of the bye week.

2. Running back D’Andre Swift, second-round pick

Swift has played mostly a reserve role behind Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson as a runner (12 carries for 42 yards with one touchdown), but he's been a big part of the passing game (61 reps), where he's caught 13 balls for 124 yards (9.5 average) and another score.

He had the big drop at the end of the Chicago game Week 1, but he's bounced back nicely and has proven to be a tough matchup in the passing game for opposing defenses. There's potential he sees an uptick in carries as the season moves on as well.

3. Defensive end Julian Okwara, third-round pick

Okwara's battled some injuries and has seen 25 snaps on the defensive line through four games. He's generated two quarterback hurries in those reps, both Week 1 vs. Chicago. He's also played a role on Detroit's special teams units, which have been a bright spot early on.

Okwara has to continue to develop his pass-rushing repertoire and find ways to be more impactful on defense if he wants to see his reps increase.

4. Guard Jonah Jackson, third-round pick

Jackson earned a starting role a week into training camp and hasn't looked back. He's made two starts at left guard and two at right guard. He's been solid as both a run blocker and pass protector in four games. He's been credited with allowing two sacks and has two false-start penalties.

His ability to play both guard spots has been key for Detroit early on after starting left guard Joe Dahl was placed on IR with a groin injury and Halapoulivaati Vaitai was moved from right tackle to right guard. Jackson is big, tough, versatile and has fit right in upfront.

5. Guard Logan Stenberg, fourth-round pick

Stenberg has been active for only one game this season and hasn't played a snap. The Lions liked his toughness and grit coming out of Kentucky, but knew there was going to be some work needed to refine his pass-pro skills. Kentucky was a heavy-run offense, and that's where Stenberg made his mark. In the NFL, offensive linemen have to be able to do both. Stenberg is coming along, and he'll keep improving. There could be a time this year when he's called upon to play a role.

6. Wide receiver Quintez Cephus, fifth-round pick

Cephus filled in for the injured Kenny Golladay the first two weeks of the season and saw 10 targets Week 1 vs. Chicago. He caught three passes for 43 yards in that contest. He caught three passes again Week 2 in Green Bay for 54 yards. Golladay returned Week 3 vs. Arizona, and Cephus has seen his snap count fall significantly from 101 the first two weeks combined to just 16 combined the last two weeks. He hasn't been targeted in either of the last two games. Detroit needs to find a way to keep Cephus a little more involved in the offense.

7. Defensive tackle John Penisini, sixth-round pick

Penisini has seen his snap counts steady increase as the year's gone on from nine Week 1 to 22 last week vs. New Orleans. In those 22 reps vs. the Saints, Penisini was in on five tackles (one solo & four assisted). Starting defensive tackle Nick Williams went down with a shoulder injury vs. the Saints, and Penisini did a nice job filling in, earning his highest grades of the season in tackling and run defense by PFF. Depending on the severity of Williams' injury, Penisini could continue to see an uptick in reps moving forward.

8. Tight end Hunter Bryant, undrafted

The undrafted rookie out of Washington was a nice storyline early in camp with his ability to make plays down the field in the passing game. It seemed Bryant was running free down the field almost daily. Unfortunately, he suffered a hamstring injury the second week of camp and hasn't been able to play since.

He appears to be getting close to returning, however. He was back at practice all week ahead of the Saints game and an extra week of rest from the bye week could put him in a position to make his NFL debut Week 6 vs. Jacksonville.


  • Defensive tackle Jashon Cornell's (seventh-round pick) season was derailed before it ever really got going when he suffered an Achilles injury early in camp and was placed on IR. Hopefully Cornell's rehab goes well and he can try to make an impact in 2021.
  • Safety Jalen Elliott, safety Bobby Price, punter Arryn Siposs and long snapper Steve Wirtel are four rookies currently on Detroit's practice squad.

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