Where has the time gone?
Quarterback Matthew Stafford stood in front of his locker Tuesday pondering that thought for a moment after he was asked about 2019 being his 11th season. Time flies.
"It really does," Stafford said. "A lot of memories. A lot of games played. A lot of snaps that I can remember and all of it is good experience and to use it to my advantage as much as I possibly can.
"Every year I'm trying to be a better player than I was the year before and this year is no different. I put a lot of pressure on myself just to go play better and help this team win."
A new season offers a blank slate in that regard, and that's a good thing for Stafford and Detroit's offense coming off a disappointing 2018 season. Stafford dealt with a back injury that lingered last season, and he had a down year statistically for him.
Detroit's offense as whole a year ago ranked in the bottom third in the NFL in just about every major statistical category.
Head coach Matt Patricia moved on from offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter after the season and brought in veteran Darrell Bevell. Bevell's scheme is based on balance, multiplicity and toughness.
Stafford said the start of every year is exciting, whether it's year one, year five or year 11. But there's also a bit of an unknown to the start of this season. Stafford played the fewest amount of preseason snaps in his career over the last month, and he's orchestrating a new offense for the first time in four seasons.
"He's trying to get to know our players and myself as much as he can," Stafford said of Bevell. "I'm trying to get to know him and his system as best I can and try to make that thing gel as soon as possible.
"I'm excited for us to go out there and play some games and obviously learn from mistakes that are going to happen in the game and also build on some positives."
Stafford has a lot of football under his belt now. He's hoping the changes Detroit's made on that side of the ball, along with his experience, translates to more wins in 2019, and potentially reaching some of the team goals that have eluded him over the last decade.
There's been a lot of conversation this week about how Detroit is preparing for and planning to stop Arizona's new spread offense led by quarterback Kyler Murray. While that's obviously a big storyline leading up to Sunday's game, it's not the only one.
Arizona also has some nice players on defense, starting with veteran edge rushers Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs. Jones had 13.0 sacks and 13 tackles for loss last season for the Cardinals and has recorded double-digit sacks in each of his last four seasons.
Suggs, who signed with Arizona in the offseason after playing 16 years in Baltimore, played in all 16 games last season for the Ravens. He had 7.0 sacks and 13 tackles for loss.
Together, Jones and Suggs are two crafty veterans on the edge that are good both as pass rushers and run defenders. Tackles Taylor Decker and Rick Wagner will have their hands full on Sunday.
"Suggs with his power, his ability to hold the edge. Chandler (Jones) with his length, he does a good job on the edge," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. "Then when they transition into the pass rush, Suggs and his speed off the edge – his ability to turn the corner, speed-to-power pass rush, the ability to come off the edge and counter. He's a very aggressive pass rusher. Chandler (Jones) has a full arsenal of weapons he uses on the edge. He can kind of line up everywhere from that standpoint.
"We have to be ready for both of those guys to be in different positions across the line of scrimmage to be able to handle them. It's a really difficult task when you have two edge guys like that coming at you, from a protection standpoint."
With the 53-man regular-season roster now in place, some players took the opportunity to change their jersey numbers with more numbers becoming available after the roster was trimmed down from 90 players.
Here's a list of players with new numbers:
- QB Josh Johnson – 8
- QB David Blough – 10
- WR Jonathan Duhart (practice squad) – 12
- WR Travis Fulgham – 14
- S Tracy Walker – 21
- CB Amani Oruwariye – 24
- CB Will Harris – 25
- RB Ty Johnson – 31
- RB J.D. McKissic – 41
- DT Kevin Strong – 92
Center Frank Ragnow practiced Tuesday for the first time since leaving the Lions' Preseason Week 3 loss to the Buffalo Bills with a leg injury.
Linebacker Jarrad Davis, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand all wore helmets and went through stretching with the team, but were held out of the individual portion of practice open to the media.