The Lions have been shorthanded upfront along their defensive line all season due to the elbow injury suffered by Da’Shawn Hand in training camp that’s forced him to miss Detroit’s first six contests.
It’s didn’t help when veteran Mike Daniels injured his right foot in the first half of a game last month against the Philadelphia Eagles and hasn’t played since.
Daniels practiced Thursday and Friday for the first time since suffering the injury. The team ruled him out for Sunday's contest, but the fact that he's practicing again is a good sign for the future.
Hand missed most of training camp, which means he didn’t take part in all of those padded practices in camp. The Lions have been cautious with his return because they only get to see how the elbow reacts to full padded contact on Wednesdays during the regular season.
Because of their Monday night game in Green Bay Oct. 14, they didn’t conduct a padded practice last Wednesday ahead of the Vikings game. It was part of the reason Hand was inactive last week. Hand was a full go for this week’s Wednesday padded practice, and it was a good sign he was a full participant Thursday and Friday as well.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019.
“I think Hand’s had a good week,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. “He’s gone consecutively now and practiced at a high level.”
The Lions have missed Hand’s versatility and pass rush ability early on. He recorded the second most quarterback hurries (22) last season for the Lions, despite missing three games and playing less than 60 percent of the snaps on defense.
He might be Detroit’s most athletic big man upfront. He’s often too quick for centers and guards to handle one-on-one, and he can help in run defense, an area the Lions have had particularly struggled with early on, because of his strength and athleticism.
Hand wasn't listed with a game status on the injury report, so all signs point to him returning this week vs. the Giants.
Detroit’s struggled to provide consistent quarterback pressure, and missing Hand and Daniels, arguably their two best interior pass rushers, has played a factor. Good defensive line play oftentimes hinges on three or four guys complementing each other and playing off one another.
The interior rush affects the edge rushers and vice versa. Detroit’s really missed Hand and Daniels in that regard.
The Lions have to get better play upfront on defense, and getting all of their pieces back playing together is the first step.
The Lions work a lot of red zone situations in Friday practice, and Patricia said he didn’t think last Friday’s practice leading into the Vikings game was particularly sharp.
Two days later, Detroit’s defense allowed Minnesota to go 5-for-5 in the red zone. Detroit’s offense, however, was a perfect 4-for-4.
“We have to practice well today,” Patricia said Friday. “I thought last week I thought our Friday practice overall as a team could have been better and I think some of that showed up in the game.”
Patricia was looking for a much more consistent practice from all three phases to end the week.
BARKLEY EXCITED TO FACE HARRISON
Be careful what you wish for.
“I have to do a better job in the middle and getting some of those plays I’m used to making that I’m not making this year,” he said. “It’s a lot of things I can blame it on, but the only thing I can do at the end of the day is just throw effort at it during the practice week and try to perform on Sunday.”
Giants running back Saguon Barkley and Harrison became friendly last year when Harrison was with the Giants and the team spent their No. 2 overall pick on Barkley.
“He’s a heck of a player,” Barkley said of Harrison. “He’s a great player. I know personally, he wanted to get his hands on me since I got here last year, so he’s going to actually get that chance. But not only him, Romeo (Okwara), all of those guys that we’ve got over there right now, they’re heck of players. I wish nothing but the best for them, but this week I just hope they don’t play to the level that they are capable of.”
Harrison comes into the contest with 15 tackles, two tackles for loss, three passes defended and a couple sacks.
Barkley is playing in his second straight game after missing the previous three with an ankle injury. He’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry this season, and is coming off a rookie season in which he amassed more than 2,000 scrimmage yards with 15 touchdowns.
WHO WILL IT BE THIS WEEK?
The Lions have produced six individual 100-yard receiving performances through six games played for only the second time in franchise history (1997).
The only other teams in the NFL to have at least six individual 100-yard receiving performances on the year are the Falcons and Rams, but both of those teams have played seven games.
Wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola have two 100-yard receiving games on the year, and wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. and tight end T.J. Hockenson each have one.
The Giants enter Sunday’s contest 23rd in the league in pass defense (257.0). Their 18 sacks, however, rank in the top 13 in the league.