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NOTEBOOK: Lions taking care of the football so far this season

"It's all about the ball."

It's a saying Lions head coach Matt Patricia instilled in this team as one of his core fundamentals when he took over as head coach in 2018. Protect the football on offense, get after it on defense.

Detroit is currently the only team in the NFL without a fumble this season. That's 504 offensive touches, which accounts for all scrimmage touches plus all quarterback touches (sacks included) with the ball never touching the ground. They're the first team in NFL history to not record a single fumble through their first five games.

This week's opponent, Indianapolis, is next best with two fumbles on the year, the same number as Green Bay so far this season. On the other side of the ball, Detroit's forced six fumbles, which ranks in the top 10 in the league.

Through Week 7, the Lions have only committed four turnovers, the third fewest in the NFL.

Most importantly, Detroit's plus-three turnover differential on the season ranks in the top seven in the NFL, joining Tennessee (plus-9), Kansas City (plus-8), Baltimore (plus-6), Cleveland (plus-5), Seattle (plus-5), Tampa Bay (plus-5) and Indianapolis (plus-3). The common theme among all those teams tied or ahead of the Lions in turnover differential so far this year is they're all currently qualified for the playoffs in their respective conferences. The Lions are one game out.

"I just think the guys do a great job with fundamentals," Patricia said. "That is a big part of our teaching of fundamentals. From Day 1, when we talk about those things, the No. 1 fundamental is ball security, and obviously trying to turn the ball over when we get those opportunities.

"We have to be all about the ball."

Detroit's won the turnover battle 3-1 over their last two games, both victories, and will look to keep that going against a Colts team that's pretty good about not turning the ball over and being able to generate their own takeaways on defense.


Night and day.

That's how rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah has described his development both on and off the field from his first start Week 2 in Green Bay, to where he is now coming off his fifth game played and fourth start last week in Atlanta.

"Still have a lot of ways to go, but I've learned a lot about the nuances of the position, the little details," Okudah said Wednesday. "I've really relied on the other DB's in the room, the veterans on the team."

Okudah said he's learned a lot on the fly early this season having to play the likes of Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones already. That's a trio most would consider in the top five in the league at the receiver position.

"I'd say it's been really beneficial just to get those top-tier receivers under my belt," Okudah said. "It's a league full of great receivers, but at the top there aren't too many guys like those.

"Just to be able to get those guys in the first five, six weeks of the season, I think that's been big. I've seen some of the best of the best so far."

The No. 3 overall pick has held his own for the most part, too. Opposing passers are completing about 68 percent of their passes throwing Okudah's way with an 89.0 passer rating. Not bad for a rookie going against that kind of talent on the outside.

Most importantly, Okudah has yet to give up a touchdown this season.


The Colts are coming off their bye week and will be well rested for Sunday's matchup at Ford Field.

The Lions have decided to conduct a walkthrough for Wednesday's practice. It's the eighth week of the season, which is near the halfway point, and Patricia said it's about taking care of the players' bodies.

"Indianapolis, coming off their bye, they're going to be fresh and ready to go and we're going to have to try and match that speed and that intensity on the field," Patricia said.

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