One of the players who should see more targets this week now that tight end T.J. Hockenson is in Minnesota is slot receiver Amon-Ra. St. Brown.
It only takes looking back to the end of last season to come to that conclusion.
Hockenson missed the final five games last year with a thumb injury, which coincided with St. Brown's offensive explosion at the end of last season.
In those last five games the Lions were without Hockenson, St. Brown was targeted 55 times and caught 41 of those for 474 yards and four touchdowns.
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson did a nice job last season putting St. Brown and others in position to make plays when they didn't have Hockenson. That experience is something the Lions can lean on for the remaining 10 games of this season.
"Coach Johnson, all our coaches, do a great job of putting us in positions to make plays," St. Brown said this week. "Whether that's formation adjustments, whatever it is, they are going to put us in a position to make plays."
This is an opportunity for Johnson to tinker with some formations and receiver sets. He can play to some strengths of Detroit's other pass-catching weapons, especially St. Brown, who has 35 receptions for 344 yards and three touchdowns in six games.
"Definitely losing (Hockenson) is going to hurt us a bit, but that just means targets go elsewhere," St. Brown said. "I think for all of us, we've got to step up and make more plays. If we think what we did up to this point was enough, we have to do more."
SWIFT BACK AT PRACTICE
After sitting out practice Wednesday, running back D’Andre Swift was back on the practice field Thursday during the open portion.
Swift played 33 snaps last week against Miami and got 10 touches, though head coach Dan Campbell said earlier in the week they might have pushed him a little too hard.
Campbell said Swift was feeling better this week. He looked pretty good at the open portion of practice on Thursday.
Former Michigan teammates Rashan Gary and Aidan Hutchinson will share the same field once against Sunday as Gary's Packers head to Detroit to take on Hutchinson's Lions at Ford Field.
"Rashan was a dog," Hutchinson said of the one year they overlapped at Michigan. "Every day watching him in practice and watching him do what he does it was pretty cool."
Gary is leading the Packers with 6.0 sacks, 11 quarterback hits and seven tackles for loss this season. Hutchinson leads the Lions with 4.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits.
"I haven't seen Rashan in a long time," Hutchinson said. "It'll be good. Maybe we'll get a little jersey swap after the game."
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Wednesday, November 2, 2022.
The Lions relieved defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant of his duties this week, a decision defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said was tough for him because of his friendship with Pleasant, but one he supported head coach Dan Campbell on.
The Lions' defense ranks 32nd in points allowed and total defense. They are 30th against the run and 27th against the pass. They are last in third-down defense and rank 30th in red zone efficiency and takeaways.
It hasn't been good on defense so far for Detroit, but the only finger Glenn is pointing is at himself.
"As the coordinator, I always point a finger at myself because at the end of the day how the defense performs that's on me," Glenn said Thursday. "That's on me. I give a vision of what I want defensively. I let my coaches coach.
"I think that's the best way as coordinator to not be – to not micro-manage your coaches. I think the best thing for me to do is give the vision and man, let the coaches coach. And I will say this, I think it's important that you let coaches be able to do some of their own things because it makes them invested in what you're doing.
"They come with their ideas, and I always listen to those things. Yes, there's some things that I want to get done, I want to get it done the way I want it. But there's also things that listen, 'This is the way you've done it; we've got to make sure it works.' And we move on from that."