Lions backup turned starting quarterback Jeff Driskel said the biggest difference for him this week vs. last week is the 20 or so reporters and cameramen who were waiting at his locker to talk to him Wednesday afternoon.
Driskel has been thrust into the spotlight taking the place of Matthew Stafford as Detroit's starting quarterback over the last four days.
Driskel started in place of Stafford Sunday in Chicago after Stafford showed up on the inactive list with a back injury. He was the first quarterback other than Stafford to make a start for the Lions since the 2011 season.
Stafford began this week as a non-participant in practice Wednesday, which means Driskel could be in line for a second consecutive start Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys visit the Lions at Ford Field. He took first reps in practice with David Blough handling the backup role.
"Preparing has been the same," Driskel said of this week. "You get here first thing in the morning and you kind of figure out what the plan is for the week. I'd say the biggest difference for me is all you guys standing around my locker.
"It's business as normal. Taking as much information as you can, go practice it, look at it after practice, take it home, look at it some more and be ready for (Thursday), a third down day."
Driskel was 27-of-46 passing against the Bears for 269 yards with a touchdown and interception. He also rushed for 37 yards on five carries. Not a bad overall performance, but Driskel said there was plenty for him to clean up watching the tape, especially some of the pre-snap penalties, and of the course the turnover in his own territory.
The extra reps he's receiving this week as the starter in practice could help with that. He's in the huddle with the first-team offense and those players are getting more comfortable with him.
Driskel said a good piece of advice he got this week was from Stafford, who told him just to go out and play.
"It just goes down to him being a great teammate, great guy and great competitor," Driskel said of Stafford. "Happy that he's on our side."
Driskel's been in this spot in his career before, having to come in and start five games for the Bengals last year in a similar situation, which has helped prepare him.
He's full speed on preparing for the Cowboys Sunday, and will be ready if called upon to start.
"You have to put everything you can into one week and try to get a win this week," Driskel said. "We have to do everything we can to try and get back on track."
TAVAI'S INCREASING ROLE
In three of the last four weeks, rookie linebacker Jahlani Tavai has played in at least 67 percent of the defensive snaps for the Lions. His season high was Week 7 vs. Minnesota, playing 82 percent of the defensive snaps in that contest. For the season, Tavai is averaging close to 58 percent of the snaps, so we're seeing a consistent uptick in his playing time recently.
Veteran linebacker Jarrad Davis played his fewest defensive snaps, by percentage, this season Sunday in Chicago in a game in which he was healthy. He played in 77 percent of the snaps.
During a couple defensive drives Sunday, Tavai played the MIKE and made the defensive calls. He ended up playing 67 percent of the defensive snaps in Chicago, finishing with three tackles and a sack.
"I think one of the things that I was conscious of in this game was making sure we did have a good rotation with the linebacker corp," Patricia said. "We had a couple different packages that we kind of threw at the Bears, and I think for that it was predetermined.
"It was something that we had kind of scripted through the game of like, 'Hey, we're going to give certain guys rest during these series and roll them in and out,' from that aspect of it." So, that we could try to be better in the fourth quarter."
Both Patricia and defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said this week that Tavai's increased role is a way to rotate players in and out in an effort to keep guys fresh. It was not a demotion for Davis.
"Yeah, we love Jarrad," Pasqualoni said Tuesday. "Jarrad is our signal caller, he's our quarterback on defense. He has really, really, really good leadership – very, very good leadership and a great guy."
Davis led the Lions with eight tackles Sunday and played his best game of the season per Pro Football Focus.
PRESCOTT ON FIRE
The Cowboys roll into Ford Field Sunday with the league's No. 1 overall offense, No. 3 passing offense and No. 5 rushing offense.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has been particularly good for the Cowboys (5-4) this season. Through nine games, Prescott ranks third in the NFL in passing yards per game (308.6). His 40 completions of 20 yards or more ranks second (behind Matthew Stafford's 41) and he's third in the league with nine completions of 40 yards or more.
Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes (9.0) is the only passer averaging more yards per attempt than Prescott's 8.7. His 18 touchdown passes are tied for third in the NFL.
Detroit enters this game having allowed the last four quarterbacks they've played against to record at least three touchdown passes with a passer rating above 100.0. Detroit currently ranks 28th against the pass.
Patricia said the thing he's really seen Prescott improve since the last time these two teams played is Prescott's ability to change plays, audible, and make adjustments based on what he sees from the defense at the line of scrimmage. Patricia said his his post-snap read of coverage is a lot better.
Detroit's defense will have their hands full with Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Co. this weekend.
The NFL has set up a workout in Atlanta for free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick in front of 32 team representatives as he tries to make his way back into the league.
"We as an organization, we always do our due diligence on all players that are available," Patricia said. "I know Bob (Quinn) and his staff will have someone down there to watch the workout, and we'll see where that goes.
"But, I was really pleased with Jeff (Driskel) and the way that he played in the game. I thought, again, the poise for him to be able to go in and do what he did, I thought was really good. His understanding of what we needed to do in the game plan, so I think that's where we are as a team. But, I know we always do our due diligence with that stuff, yes."