Detroit Lions rookie pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson became the fourth youngest player (22 years, 40 days) in NFL history to record a three-sack performance in last week's 36-27 win over Washington. It was the first time in franchise history a rookie has recorded three sacks in a contest. Hutchinson also chipped in six tackles and two tackles for loss in a dominating performance by the No. 2 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft.
But towards the end of that game Hutchinson was limping pretty good after taking a knee to the thigh and suffering a thigh bruise. It was significant enough to keep him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. Hutchinson returned to practice as a limited participant on Friday, but he's officially listed as questionable to play Sunday in Minnesota against the Vikings.
Already without John Cominsky (wrist), who led the team in quarterback hurries the first two weeks of the season, Hutchinson's absence would be a big blow to a Detroit pass rush that netted five sacks and 11 quarterbacks hits a week ago.
"Yeah, I mean certainly you want guys practicing – it's always better to practice, so you get the looks, the live looks, but I'm not concerned because he's mentally – he's in it," head coach Dan Campbell said Friday before practice of Hutchinson missing a couple days this week.
"He's a visual learner. He'll be able to see it, and there again, he'll run around today, and they'll work some of those – our games and things of that nature and our fits. And so, I don't feel like it's concerning."
Hutchinson was indeed back on the practice field Friday with a sleeve around his leg, which means he's trending in the right direction. We'll just have to see how he responds to practice, and if it continues to progress to a point where he can play Sunday.
OKUDAH PLAYING WELL
Third-year cornerback Jeff Okudah has gotten off to a terrific start through two games. He's averaging just 31.5 passing yards allowed per game in his coverage with no touchdowns. Opposing quarterbacks have an 86.7 passer rating when throwing his way.
Asked about Okudah's performance through the first two weeks of the season, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said he's been impressed with how Okudah's handled himself off the field and how that has translated to his play on it.
"His habits as far as becoming a pro have really improved," Glenn said. "He's diving into it every day as hard as he can. You see those things starting to help him and he's starting to really lean on Amani (Oruwariye) who's been around, lean on me, AP (defensive backs/pass game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant), (safeties coach) Brian Duker as far as tips. He's trusting those tips and he's put them to work."
Okudah said that behind-the-scenes preparation has been huge in his early-season success.
"It's been big for me," he said this week. "Obviously, missing as much time as I have, any little advice goes a long way for me. I'm trying to soak in as much knowledge as I can."
Okudah's also garnered respect from the defensive linemen and linebackers for the way he's come up and supported the run game, per head coach Dan Campbell.
ROOKIES ON THE ROAD
It will be the first regular-season road test for Detroit's rookies, which adds another layer of intrigue to this week's matchup. U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis is one of the best football environments in the NFL, and one of the loudest stadiums.
"Huge test, because it's the first one," Campbell said. "It's the first road game, and this is something that we have a lot of urgency about us I feel like this week. This is big. We need to try and set the tempo for ourselves, and it starts on the road, division game. Of course it's not going to be easy. It's going to be hostile. It shouldn't be easy. And those guys are going to be ready to go."
- Amon-Ra St. Brown has the fifth highest grade from Pro Football Focus among all wide receivers in the NFL against man coverage.
- How good has Detroit's offensive line play been? Through two games, the Lions lead the NFL with 197 rushing yards before contact.