NOTEBOOK: Offensive line off to a good start

Detroit's refurbished offensive line is off to a pretty good start in 2016.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked just once in Sunday's 39-35 win in Indianapolis, and the team is one-for-one putting up 100-yard rushing totals with 116 against the Colts.

Individually, tackle Riley Reiff, guard Larry Warford and center Travis Swanson finished the weekend ranked in the top four at their respective positions by Pro Football Focus heading into Monday night's games.

Even rookie left tackle Taylor Decker, making his first career start, earned a positive grade from PFF.

But speaking with some of the linemen in the locker room Monday after their film session with coaches, the resounding opinion of their own performance was that they can play better -- a lot better.

"I mean, it needs to be a lot better," said Swanson, who allowed just one hurry in the game. " From what we saw, as a group, there are a lot of little things and technique things that can be cleaned up."

Offensive line play is never going to be perfect, that's just the nature of the position. The key though, is limiting the mistakes and playing efficiently as a group, which the five starters did for the most part in Indianapolis.

"It's a great foundation to start," said Warford, who probably had the most clean game of anyone upfront. "The offensive line play is never set in stone. We still have improvements to make and we're going to keep improving and improving during the season, making sure we don't slip on our fundamentals and basics. That's really tough."

The goal now is to build on last week's showing and start stacking good performances on top of each other. Do that and they're onto something upfront.

"I think you have to look at it, and just kind of see what production you had," head coach Jim Caldwell said of their performance in Indy.

"We were decently productive, but we've still got a lot of work to do, we weren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination."


Kerry Hyder admitted Monday that his phone blew up with well wishers after his two-sack performance in the season opener.

"I've been getting a lot of calls from a lot of people," Hyder said. "Some new. Some old.

"Nah, it's good. I appreciate all the love. I might get verified on Twitter, eventually. I might get some love. Get my followers up."

Hyder was joking about the Twitter followers, but another two-sack performance this week against Tennessee, and his followers might skyrocket.

Hyder spent most of last season on the practice squad, and earned a role on defense this year through hard work and improvement from the offseason program right into training camp.

"We try and do our part and make an impact," Hyder said of himself and some of the other rotational players stepping in and making plays.

"It's our first time out there really playing and we're just trying to play fast and play hard and whatever comes from it comes from it. If we're going to make a mistake, we're going to make it at full speed."

Hyder made the most of his 22 reps last week.


A lot of teams around the NFL have a premier dual-threat running back. LeSean Mcoy in Buffalo, Danny Woodhead in San Diego and Devonta Freeman in Atlanta are just a few that come to mind -- Players who can burn opponents both running and receiving.

If Week 1 is any indication, the Lions could have two such players in their backfield with Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah.

Abdullah collected 120 yards from scrimmage (63 rush, 57 receiving) against the Colts on Sunday, and Riddick garnered 108 total yards (45 rush, 63 receiving). It was the first time since 2013 (Reggie Bush, 182; Joique Bell 128) the Lions had two running backs total over 100 yards from scrimmage in a game.

"I think the most important thing is that, with Jim Bob (Cooter) and the guys on offense do a nice job of, is getting those guys the ball in ways where they can utilize their talents, and it's not always handed to them out of the backfield," Caldwell said Monday.

"I believe both of them were over 100 all-purpose yards, I think that's who they are. I think they're effective catching it, I think they're effective out of the backfield, running the ball as well, but I think you have to mix it up with them."

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