Between the Jeff Okudah Achilles injury Week 1 followed by an injury to his replacement Ifeatu Melifonwu, and Bobby Price and Jerry Jacobs mixing into the lineup in their place, it's been a bit of musical chairs for the Lions at one of the outside cornerback spots.
Thankfully third-year veteran Amani Oruwariye has been steady all year for the Lions at the other cornerback spot. Where would this defense be without him?
It hasn't been perfect for Oruwariye, but he's been available and he's been steady – two things the Lions' defense can certainly benefit from.
"He's done a good job," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Oruwariye. "He's been a steady for us over there. Look, he's come up with a couple of turnovers. I'll tell you what, I feel like he's had a really good week of practice, made quite a few plays.
"And it does mean a lot because he is, he's really our veteran, if you will, over there that's been pretty steady. I think he's in a good place I'm glad we've got him."
After giving up five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in the opener against San Francisco, Oruwariye has allowed a combined six catches for 69 yards and no touchdowns over the last three games, per Pro Football Focus statistics. Opposing passers have a 79.9 passer rating throwing his way in four contests, and he's recorded two interceptions and just one touchdown against.
"He's been consistent," defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant said of Oruwariye's play to begin the year. "He's played a little bit more aggressive than he has in the past. There are a couple plays always we'd like to get back, but he's been a strong point for our secondary. He's come up with the ball two times in occasions when we needed it. Hopefully, he'll still keep progressing in the right direction."
CONTAINING COOK & CO.
It's easier said than done.
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook has been a thorn in the Lions' side over the last two seasons. In fact, he's averaged 136.7 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his last three games vs. the Lions. The Vikings won all three contests by 12-plus points.
An ankle injury prevented Cook from playing two weeks ago, and he was limited a bit last week in his return. He sat out practice to start this week, and is questionable to play Sunday vs. Detroit.
Campbell said job No. 1 for his defense this week is limiting Cook and the Vikings' run game.
"Everything is about Cook, and look, (Alexander Mattison) 25's no slouch either, now," Campbell said. "That kid can run the ball. But, the run game is – I really do believe that this team lives and dies by it. It all starts that way for them.
"If they can get in a rhythm and they can – because once they're able to run it out of a certain formation, set, look, then they've got two plays off of that and one of them is going to involve a shot play. And so, I really do believe the onus is on stopping him first and I think that will help us on the backend with these receivers and Kirk Cousins throwing it."
Even with Cook a little banged up, Mattison is a very capable backup for Minnesota. He rushed for 112 yards and had 171 scrimmage yards in the Seattle game starting in place of Cook.
Detroit enters the contest ranked 24th in the NFL against the run, allowing on average 132.8 yards per game on the ground to opponents. Their six rushing touchdowns allowed is tied for 26th.
FINDING TIME FOR JEFFERSON
Running back Jermar Jefferson is the only 2021 Lions draft pick who has yet to see game action this season. He's been a healthy scratch in each of Detroit's first four contests.
Running backs coach Duce Staley was asked about Jefferson last week, and he said he liked that Jefferson has been mad and disappointed about not being able to play.
Jefferson's name came up again this week when Campbell was asked about the roster and which young players should see more playing time.
"Look, we'd love to find a way to get (Jermar) Jefferson into the game," Campbell said. "We think he's a kid that, man, you'd love to get him some real game-time experience. The hard thing right now is getting into the game because special teams is where he's got to be able to help us first and he's not quite there."
Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift have been a healthy and productive duo to begin the year, so with Jefferson not playing special teams, it's hard to find a spot for him on Sunday. We'll see if that changes this week.