Jarrad Davis won't play in Sunday's game vs. Atlanta after he suffered a concussion Monday night vs. New York, and sat out practice all week.
The Lions will have to replace their starting MIKE linebacker, but defensive coordinator Teryl Austin does have some options.
He could shift Tahir Whitehead from the WILL back over to the MIKE (most likely), and then play veteran Paul Worrilow or rookie Jalen Reeves-Maybin at the WILL.
Worrilow gives them experience and familiarity with Atlanta's scheme. He played the previous four years with the Falcons. Reeves-Maybin gives them speed and athleticism.
Reeves-Maybin played 16 snaps and made two tackles vs. the Giants, much of that work coming in the Lions' nickel package after Davis left in the fourth quarter.
If Austin elects to play Reeves-Maybin, whether it be in base or sub packages, the one thing his defense won't miss out on in Davis' absence is speed, because Reeves-Maybin has plenty of that.
"If we do play, and Jalen plays, I think one of the things that you saw early with Jalen that we see is very athletic, can run, really can excel in pass coverage because he does have the ability," Austin said.
"He moves like a big defensive back is what he moves like, and so that's why we put him in the game last week, we figured it was going to be a passing game let's see if we can get him in there and get some work with him. So, I think as far as what will happen if Jarrad doesn't go once the medical reports come out, we'll cross that bridge when we get there."
A four-year player at Tennessee, Reeves-Maybin played 37 games his first three seasons but was limited to four as a senior in 2016 because of a shoulder injury. He had a productive two seasons as a sophomore and junior, starting all 26 games in 2014-15 combined. He produced two 100-tackle seasons, eight sacks, 25 tackles for loss, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries combined in those two years.
He's been a core special teamer for the Lions the first two weeks of the season.
"I'm just preparing to play more and more every week," Reeves-Maybin said Friday. "I just try and bring my athleticism to the field. Try to excel in all areas and just bring my identity to the field. Hopefully, continue to progress so there's no drop-off in play between who we put out there, no matter what position it is."
GLASGOW PLAYING WELL
Coaches want to see progression in young players. Players need to take a big leap in development in year two, and then incrementally get better from there. If they don't, it's a red flag.
Second-year guard Graham Glasgow is coming off arguably his best game as a professional Monday night in New York. Detroit's starting left guard was good in the run game, and didn't allow a single sack, quarterback hit or hurry in the pass game.
"I think he had a positive game, did a bunch of good things," Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said of Glasgow's performance Monday. "That was good to see, hope to keep that going this week."
Glasgow was drafted in the third round out of Michigan last year to be the center of the future, but he's settling into the left guard spot. Don't discount how important his performance has been over on the left side as Greg Robinson still adjusts to Detroit's scheme at left tackle.
Cooter likes what he's been seeing from*his *young left guard, and hopes his growth continues on its current trajectory.
"Second year guy, got some experience, more experience late in the season last year," Cooter said. "He's been starting for us, been playing obviously a bunch of reps, and you see him improving which is what you're supposed to do, and we got to keep that coming."
Early on this season, the no-huddle offense has been a weapon for the Lions.
The Lions lead the league with 38.4 percent of their plays being run without a huddle, according to Pro Football Focus.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford is a terrific 25-of-32 (78 percent) for 165 yards with three touchdowns out of the no-huddle this season. Detroit's also running the ball well out of the no-huddle, which is making it a dual threat on opposing defenses.
How much might we see it Sunday in the friendly confines of Ford Field?
The Lions rushed for 138 yards in their Week 2 victory over the Giants, led by the running back tandem of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.
Cooter was dedicated to the run Monday (32 attempts), and eventually it wore down a good defensive front seven.
"I think I've told you all along, when (No.) 21's on the field and (No.) 25 is healthy, our running game has always been a respectable running game," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said. "We are not a team that's going to run the ball for 300 yards in a game. It's not a wish bone. So, we just need to be respectable. And I think that's what we were on Monday, and what we're working to do is improve upon that and make certain that our running game is respectable against a great front that we got to face with linebackers that can run and tackle, and a secondary that's outstanding."
Atlanta ranks 16th against the run heading into Sunday's matchup after allowing 125 yards on the ground to Chicago Week 1, but just 59 in a win over the Packers at home last Sunday night.
Monday was an improvement for the Lions after they were held to 82 yards on the ground in Week 1. Abdullah notched a career-high 86 yards on 17 carries vs. the Giants, which included a 34-yard run late in the fourth quarter that helped milk the clock in Detroit's 24-10 win.
It's early, but the numbers so far look better for Detroit's rushing attack. They ranked 30th in the NFL in that department last year averaging a little over 80 yards per game on the ground. They currently rank 14th in rushing, and are averaging 110 yards per game.
"I was feeling good about our run game," Cooter said. "We weren't hitting five, six, seven yards every single play. We had a few more minuses than I would like or we would like. But all in all, it felt like the guys were doing a good job up front and the backs were finding the right spots. And that's a big thing as the game goes on to get a feel for it. So, look to do that next week with whatever pops up then."
Detroit's three captains for Sunday's matchup with the Falcons (2-0) are: Golden Tate (offense), Tahir Whitehead (defense) and Miles Killebrew (special teams).