The Notebook

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NOTEBOOK: Flowers working his way back to form

Defensive end Trey Flowers has played in 48 games with 39 starts and has logged more than 2,700 snaps in his NFL career. He has done so at a pretty high level over his four-plus years.

Flowers, Detroit’s big free-agent acquisition this offseason, is off to a bit of a slow start. He has three tackles in two games, no sacks, and four quarterback hurries.

He isn’t alone, however, among Detroit defensive linemen who are off a to a slow start to the 2019 season. Defensive tackles Damon Harrison Sr. and Mike Daniels haven’t lit up the stat sheet either.

All three of those players missed most of training camp due to injuries or other factors. Flowers was rehabbing a shoulder injury and didn’t play at all in the preseason.

There’s still some rust to shake off for Flowers, but he doesn’t seem too worried about it. 

“You obviously got to play football in order to be good at it,” he said Thursday. “Dealing with that is one thing, we’ll continue to play. I’m working. That’s all I can do. Kind of work and get back into it.”

Lions head coach Matt Patricia has described September football in the NFL as “sloppy,” while players who don’t typically see a lot of game action in the preseason knock off the rust. When a player misses all of training camp and the preseason, there’s obviously more rust to chip away at.

Flowers, Harrison and Daniels have played a lot of football at a high level for a long time, so Flowers isn’t worried about the slow start. 

“You can’t be worried,” he said. “You’re dealing with two games in. Obviously, you got 14 more that are promised. What happened the last two weeks, can’t change it, all you can do is work. So, I’m going to work.”

View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.

DECKER PROGRESS

The Lions were without starting left tackle Taylor Decker last week vs. the Chargers because of a back injury. Tyrell Crosby did a nice job stepping in for Decker, but Decker came out of training camp as the starter at left tackle for a reason.

Could the Lions get Decker back this week?

“It’s coming along day by day,” Decker said of the injury. “Anybody that’s had a back (injury) knows it can be finicky. Just working every single day with the athletic training staff and coaching staff to try and take steps to improve.”

Friday will be a big practice day for Decker. Last week, he took part in individual drills during the open portion of practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but didn’t do much on Friday. We saw Crosby playing left tackle in goal line drills during the open portion of practice.

How much Decker does at practice Friday could tell us how close he is to returning to the lineup.

CONTAINING ERTZ

Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz set an NFL record for tight ends last year by catching 116 passes. He totaled 1,163 receiving yards and scored eight touchdowns.

He’s always a big part of what Philadelphia wants to do on offense, but with the Eagles as banged up as they are entering Sunday’s game at receiver, Ertz is expected to play an even bigger role in the offense.

“Man, he can do everything,” Lions safety Quandre Diggs said of Ertz. “He runs great routes, he’s strong, he’s quick. He does it all for that offense. That offense really goes to him, so I have a lot of respect for a guy like that.”

After Eagles receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson left last week’s game vs. Atlanta in the first quarter due to injury, Ertz was quarterback Carson Wentz’ favorite target. Wentz targeted Ertz 16 times. Ertz finished with eight catches for 72 yards. With the status of Jeffery and Jackson in question for Sunday’s game vs. the Lions, Ertz figures to be a big part of the game plan. The Lions better have a good plan for him on defense.

“He’s just such a difficult match-up,” Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said of Ertz. “He’s so productive. The quarterback is just so confident and so comfortable with him.”

WOUNDED EAGLES

After cancelling Wednesday’s practice in favor of a walkthrough because of 13 players on the injury report, Philadelphia was back on the practice field Thursday. They were still without a number of key players.

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (calf), wide recevier DeSean Jackson (abdomen), running back Corey Clement (shoulder), safety Johnathan Cyprien (knee), tight end Dallas Goedert (calf), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (foot) and tackle Jordan Mailata (back) did not practice.

The Eagles will release game designations for all 13 players on their report this week sometime Friday afternoon.

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