It's no secret the Lions have struggled offensively this season.
Detroit enters Sunday's game in Pittsburgh ranked 29th in points scored, 26th in total offense, 26th in rushing and 21st in passing. Detroit's 30th in red zone efficiency and 29th in third-down percentage.
In hopes of giving his offense a jump start, Lions head coach Dan Campbell is devoting more of his time to that part of his team.
"I would say it involves spending a lot more time with the offense than maybe the other two phases, investment," Campbell said Wednesday. "I just want to be able to meet with the quarterback more, talk with him, just know that I feel like I have a hand print in it I guess if you will. It's just investing a lot more time."
The hope is Campbell can bring some fresh ideas to the table that potentially spark some better play out of that side of the football these last nine contests.
Campbell said Monday the offense needed to find a way to pull the trigger on more one-on-one opportunities down the field in the passing game.
"I think we've got to push the issue, which starts with us because (Jared) Goff will do what we're asking him to do and he's certainly got the arm and accuracy to do it," Campbell said.
Goff currently ranks last among qualified passers averaging only 3.9 air yards per completion through eight games.
"I do think it's important for your head coach and your quarterback to be on the same page," Campbell said. "It's not like we haven't, but I just think – I think the more I can be around him, invest a little more time in there, I just think maybe it helps."
Goff's liked having Campbell around the offense more, and said he's brought some good ideas to the table.
"He's taken a bigger hand in it, absolutely," Goff said of Campbell. "He got a background and some success on offense and has been around some really good players and coaches and has some great ideas himself."
The Steelers are ranked eighth in the NFL in points allowed and 14th in total defense, so the Lions will need their offense to play well Sunday if they're going to notch their first victory of the season.
TEST DAY FOR DECKER
Veteran left tackle Taylor Decker returned to practice Wednesday, an important first step for a potential return to game action. Decker took first-team reps at left tackle in the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday, with rookie Penei Sewell at right tackle.
Decker has yet to play this year after injuring a finger on his left hand the week leading up to the team's season opener. He suffered a setback in his initial return to practice three weeks ago, but is ready to give practice another go. He was activated off IR last week, and the team is hoping he can return to game action soon, potentially even Sunday in Pittsburgh.
"He's going to go today and he's got to prove to us he can," Campbell said Wednesday. "He's going to practice and if he feels good we're going to see what tomorrow looks like and we'll just go from there. I know he's ready to go and I know he wants to get out there and wants to test it and wants to use it. Until we test it, we're not going to know. It's time to test it."
Decker was listed as a full participant on Wednesday's practice report.
EXPANDED ROLE FOR ST. BROWN
The Lions have struggled to consistently make plays down the field to their outside receivers.
After taking a deep dive into the first eight games, one thing the Lions have come up with is having rookie slot receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown play more outside at the Z receiver spot.
The Z receiver, or flanker, usually lines up on the same side as the tight end, off the line of scrimmage, and can be utilized in motion.
Campbell said after the Philadelphia game he wanted to find ways to get St. Brown the football more. This could be a way to do that, while also potentially bringing some big-play potential to the offense on the outside.
"I'm very excited for the opportunity to go make plays," St. Brown said this week of his expanded role. "I know I'm ready, and like I said, I'm excited."
STARTING THE CLOCK
The Lions have been extremely thin at cornerback all year because of injury, but reinforcements could soon be on the way.
Detroit started the 21-day practice clock for cornerbacks Ifeatu Melifonwu and Corey Ballentine Wednesday.
Melifonwu has been on injured reserve since suffering a thigh injury Week 2. A third-round pick this year out of Syracuse, Melifonwu started in place of Jeff Okudah Week 2 in Green Bay after Okudah was lost for the year in the season opener with an Achilles injury. He was injured defending a deep pass against the Packers and hasn't played since.
The Lions love Melifonwu's size (6-3, 212) and skillset. It would be nice for the rookie to return the second half of the season and continue his development.
The Lions claimed Ballentine off waivers from the Jets in September. He played in three games, all on special teams, before suffering a hamstring injury Week 5 that landed him on IR. He returned four kickoffs, averaging 23.5 yards per return.
In Monday night's win over the Bears, Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt registered three sacks to increase his career total to 61 in his 69th NFL game. Only Reggie White (50 games), J.J. Watt (66) and Derrick Thomas (67) reached 61 career sacks in fewer games.
Watt has 11.5 sacks on the season, so the Lions have to be very aware of where he's at all times Sunday.