Running back Kerryon Johnson is coming off his best performance of the season two weeks ago vs. Kansas City in a game he rushed for 125 yards on 26 carries (4.8 average) as the Lions racked up 186 yards on the ground as a team.
It had been a little bit of a slow start for Johnson to begin the year, but the Week 4 performance put him on track again for some of the personal goals he established for himself entering the year. One of those was becoming a 1,000-yard rusher.
"For me, that was a goal of mine in college, and I continue to keep that as a goal," Johnson said. "It's hard to do in this league, 1,000 yards, it is very hard to do, so it's always kind of been a little dream, a little small goal of mine to be able to do that."
Johnson's rushed for 251 yards in four games, so he's on pace for 1,004 yards on the season.
"It'd be huge for myself, because I thought I could have got there last year," he said. "(If) a couple different things go well, obviously if the injury doesn't happen, probably could have got there last year."
Johnson was tracking toward the 1,000-yard milestone as a rookie. He had 641 yards through 10 games (1,025-yard pace) before a knee injury ended his year.
The Lions have relied on him more heavily to carry the load for their run game in back-to-back games. He carried the ball 20 times in Philadelphia and 26 times vs. Kansas City, the first two times he's ever recorded 20 carries in a game.
Johnson is up for whatever role the Lions need him to take on. He seems to be finding his groove in Darrell Bevell's offense, and the Packers are allowing 138.2 yards per game on ground on defense.
One of the areas that's still been missing with Johnson and the Lions' run game is getting more explosive runs. Johnson and Jets running back Le'Veon Bell are the only running backs with 50-plus attempts without a run of at least 15 yards this season.
More of those explosive plays will pad the stat sheet and help Johnson reach his goal of being a 1,000-yard rusher with yards to spare.
"I think that's kind of the baseline for every running back, when you're getting the proper amount of carries," Johnson said. "You're not going to get (1,000 yards) on, like, 100 carries, but any guy that's starting and getting 15, 20 carries a game, I think those are kind of bench numbers for him."
LEADING SPECIAL TEAMS TACKLER
For some of the problems the Lions have had on special teams early this season, there have been some bright spots, particularly when it comes to the coverage units.
Detroit ranks fifth in the NFL in punt coverage, allowing just 23 total punt return yards in four games. They're 17th in kickoff coverage, allowing on average 21.6 yards per return.
Individually, veteran linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin is the NFL's leading special teams tackler with seven. He was all over the field in the Kansas City game, and his ability to run and tackle in space has been really good for those coverage units early in the year.
"He's been really good in those coverage phases, in those units," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said of Reeves-Maybin. "He's playing big. He's playing fast. He's playing strong.
"(We'll) probably anticipate some different return looks for him as we push forward, so he knows he's got his work cut out in front of him. As far as his production so far, he's really been critical for us in those situations."
The NFL passed a new rule this offseason making offensive and defensive pass interference plays now challengeable and reviewable. So, what have been the trends involving the rule through the first month of the season?
It's been hard for coaches to have an on-field call of pass interference overturned. There is a better chance to have a non-call reversed via replay, although even that has been a rarity.
Through the first four weeks of the season, there was only one reversal of a pass interference penalty called on the field — including both offensive and defensive pass interference — among seven replay reviews, per an article by The Washington Post. There were six reversals among 24 replay reviews of interference non-calls. That made, in all, seven reversals among 31 reviews.
"I think for us, we just try to do the best we can to go with the probability of what we think in those situations," Patricia said. "I would say for the most part, I think just what's being called on the field is what's being called.
"I think we just have to move forward with that, unless we see something that we really think is a good opportunity for us to challenge or take a look at it, we'll do that. But really for the most part I think what's being called on the field is what's called."