Wide receiver Kenny Golladay wants to start making a difference for the Detroit Lions' offense again.
Sidelined the first two weeks because of a hamstring injury he suffered in practice leading up to Detroit's Week 1 loss vs. Chicago, Golladay returned to the practice field this week and could make his 2020 debut Sunday in Arizona against the 2-0 Cardinals. Golladay is officially listed as questionable to play Sunday.
"God willing, I'm going to try everything in my power to be out there with the guys," Golladay said after practice Friday. "Definitely feeling a lot better. Wouldn't say it's 100 percent, I really wouldn't even put a percentage on it. I just know I'm not 100 percent. I'm going to do everything I can and hopefully I showed enough (in practice this week) that I can be out there."
Golladay had a hamstring injury his rookie season in 2017 that forced him to miss six games. He said he rushed back too quick to try to prove something as a rookie that year and had a setback that lengthened the timeframe of the injury.
He said he learned from that incident in regard to his current hamstring injury. He said he's just listened to his body more this time around.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice Sept. 25, 2020.
"I'm not trying to have any setbacks or anything like that," Golladay said. "So, I'm going out there listening to the trainers, listening to my body and really just going out there and listening to my body and not trying to push anything."
Golladay's potential return, in any capacity, would certainly be a boost to a Lions offense that's missed last year's leader in touchdown receptions (11). Detroit's ranks 12th in passing offense and 24th in passer rating. Golladay led Detroit last season with 65 receptions for 1,190 yards and those 11 touchdowns. He also averaged 18.3 yards per reception, which was third best in the league, and shows his ability to make catches down the field and challenge a defense vertically.
The Cardinals certainly expect to see a very different Lions offensive attack if Golladay's back in the lineup.
"He's one of the top wideouts in the league and he's shown that in his production the last years. He's been incredible," Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury said this week of Golladay. "His style of play and physical nature, if you watch it, he'll definitely bring a lot of juice to their offense and they have (Danny) Amendola working the slot and Marvin (Jones Jr.) outside as well and T.J. (Hockenson). They have a bunch of weapons and I would expect (Golladay's return) to give them a huge boost."
HOCKENSON BACK TO ARIZONA
Tight end T.J. Hockenson is playing his second career game in Arizona Sunday, a place where he's had the greatest production thus far in his young career.
In his first game as a rookie last year, Hockenson burst onto the NFL scene with six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals in Arizona. He didn't reach those kinds of numbers again in an injury-shortened season, but Hockenson is off to a good start to begin his second season. He leads the Lions in receptions (9), yards (118) and touchdowns (1) through the team's first two contests.
"I'd say the biggest thing for us right now, in that second year, certainly understanding more conceptually offensively what we're doing and how all the pieces fit together," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said of Hockenson's early-season success.
"Understanding and taking a look at all the different coverages that maybe he started to see at the end of last year, maybe that he didn't see early in the season and as he developed through that season, defense maybe paid a little bit of different attention to him, and some more specific type of coverages that he would have to deal with having that knowledge going into this year. I think that gives him a head start."
The Cardinals have been pretty good against opposing tight ends this year. In two games against San Francisco and Washington, they've allowed a total of 11 receptions for 84 yards and no touchdowns against opposing tight ends.
What will we see from Hockenson in his second performance in Arizona Sunday?
It was an up and down debut for Lions rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah in his first NFL game action in Green Bay last week. Okudah played every snap filling in for Desmond Trufant (hamstring) at one of the outside cornerback spots. He led the team with seven tackles, but he was also credited with allowing seven catches for 121 yards in his coverage, including a long of 41 yards.
Trufant's status for Sunday is doubtful, so it's likely the Lions will depend on Okudah in a starting role again. Patricia said it was good for the rookie to get those game reps last week.
"In-game experience – we obviously always talk about game speed," Patricia said. "I certainly think there's game speed post-snap, but there's definitely game speed pre-snap too, along with the motions of formationing, the adjustments, the communication, all that happens at a much higher level, especially as a new player or a young player."
There's a big difference between practice speed and game speed, and Okudah got his first experience with that last week. He's a smart football player, and hopefully he learned something from it he can take into this week.
"For (Okudah) in particular, the corners, very similar to the offensive line, those groups that really don't rotate a lot during the game, those are the ones that now go from maybe a max of 29 or 30 rep at practice, to all of a sudden to a 65-play game, and that's a lot at game speed," Patricia said.