Lions starting quarterback Matthew Stafford popped up on Friday’s injury report with a hip injury that limited him in practice. The Lions listed the 10-year veteran as questionable to play Sunday vs. Kansas City.
Stafford has started 131 straight contests dating back to 2011, the third longest active streak in the NFL behind Philip Rivers (211) and Matt Ryan (150).
He’s gotten off to a good start in 2019, completing 62.6 of his passes for 831 yards with six touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 97.5.
If for some reason the hip injury keeps Stafford from playing Sunday, David Blough and Jeff Driskel are on the 53-man roster at quarterback. Blough has been Stafford’s backup on gameday the last couple weeks.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019.
The Lions drafted offensive lineman Frank Ragnow in the first round of the 2018 draft because he “checked off all the boxes” for general manager Bob Quinn.
Ragnow was the top center in college football as both a junior and senior at Arkansas, and was drafted as part of Quinn’s continued effort to reshape Detroit’s offensive line.
When Ragnow got to Detroit as a rookie, the Lions played him at left guard and Graham Glasgow stayed at center. As a guard, Ragnow had his ups and downs.
Detroit made the switch this offseason putting Ragnow back to his more natural center position and moving Glasgow to right guard. Early on, they’re getting more bang for their buck from both spots after the switch.
Ragnow is one of the top graded centers by Pro Football Focus early on this season, and Glasgow ranks in the top 10 among right guards.
“A lot of work to do,” a never satisfied Ragnow said Friday of the move back to center. “I can get a lot better, but there’s definitely a lot of familiarity being such that I played the position before.
“A lot of familiarity, but there’s a lot of things I can improve on and I’m just trying to listen to Graham (Glasgow) and coach (Jeff) Davidson and trying to soak everything up.”
Ragnow has been particularly good as a run blocker and a physical presence inside. He has graded out as PFF’s top run blocker at the center position through three weeks.
“I think he’s doing a good job of understanding how to direct the offensive line,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said of Ragnow. “Frank is someone that works extremely hard. He’s a guy that comes in and prepares every single week and just wants to be the best out there.
“He’s a tough guy. He’s strong. All of those attributes that you look for, he tries to do that every single week. I think for him it’s just a constant drive to improve every single week, to improve at a position that he hasn’t played in a while and I think he’s doing a good job.”
The Lions promoted rookie wide receiver Tom Kennedy from the practice squad to the active roster Friday.
Kennedy went undrafted out of Bryant and signed with the Lions as a free agent this spring. He played two years of football in college, but lacrosse was his main sport. He even played a bit professionally.
Kennedy had five catches for 76 yards in the preseason and also returned kicks.
With starting slot receiver Danny Amendola dealing with a chest injury this week and his status for Sunday in question, Kennedy does provide a backup plan in the slot if Amendola isn’t able to go. But Patricia said Friday that Kennedy earned this promotion on his own merit, and special teams will also be part of his responsibilities.
“He’s done a really good job obviously going against our first defense in man coverage,” Patricia said of Kennedy. “Getting open on the routes and understanding the concepts of what we’re doing and then being able to mix in with our offense in some of the other competitive periods we do.
“I’d say probably the biggest thing, too, is there’s special teams value he adds. He helps us in the return game. He also helps us on those matchups with the skill players. He can play fast, obviously has a background in lacrosse and some of those kind of man-to-man and one-on-one sort of situations that come up in special teams."
RED ZONE WORK
Friday is a red zone work day for the Lions. They’ll have to be very good in that department Sunday on both sides of the ball, especially on offense. The Chiefs haven’t scored less than 26 points in any game Patrick Mahomes has started at quarterback for them. Detroit is going to have to score points.
“A really difficult team to defend in the red (zone) area,” Patricia said of the Chiefs. “They have a lot of weapons. They have a great package. (Chiefs Head Coach) Andy (Reid) does a good job of scheming that all up and really giving the go-to-guys a lot of different plays and putting them in really good positions to score. That’ll be a big challenge for us there.
“On the other side of the ball, a lot of pressure from the defensive line. Those guys do a great job of getting after the quarterback, stopping the run and are very aggressive down there. They’ll blitz a little bit more, too. We just have to get all those looks here today and try to do the best we can with them and keep improving, and get ready for the game.”
The Lions are 16th in red zone percentage on offense (57.1) and seventh on defense (45.4).
Kansas City is 22nd in red zone offense (50.0) and 14th in red zone defense (54.5).
- With Green Bay’s loss to Philadelphia Thursday night at Lambeau Field, the Lions have moved into first place in the NFC North (2-0-1) ahead of Sunday’s game vs. Kansas City. The Packers fell to 3-1 with the loss.