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NOTEBOOK: TJ Jones ready to step up

Lions players have shifted the focus from the Golden Tate trade on Tuesday to the task of preparing to hit the road this weekend for a big NFC North matchup with Minnesota on Sunday.

For veteran receiver TJ Jones, Sunday's game against the Vikings represents a unique opportunity to potentially play a bigger role on offense because of Tate's departure.

Jones, a four-year veteran, has played in 33 games over his career, and has made some big catches for this team. He's been used sparingly this season (four catches), but is looking forward to the opportunity this presents for him.

"I think we're all going to step up," Jones said. "There's a lot of touches and responsibility that needs to be spread out amongst everyone in the offense. It's up to us to handle it.

"Take your responsibility, your part, whatever your role may be, and do it to the best of your ability."

The Lions tendered Jones as a restricted free agent this past offseason after he caught a career-high 30 passes for 399 yards last season as the team's No. 4 receiver.

Jones' teammates seem pretty interested in seeing how the former Notre Dame product responds to this opportunity.

"Every time TJ Jones goes in the game, I mean you can look at his track record, every time he goes in, he makes big catches," veteran safety Glover Quin said this week. "Two weeks ago he makes a big catch down the sideline vs. Miami. I've been here countless years it feels like. I've seen him make a ton of big catches.

"In this league, it's all about opportunity. It's what people need in this league. It's an opportunity for other guys to step up and make some plays and take on a bigger role. We'll see how it goes."


After missing a month of football to work on his mental health, Vikings All-Pro defensive end Everson Griffen returned to the Vikings' lineup last week.

He was still kind of getting his legs back under him, according to Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, but Lions left tackle Taylor Decker is expecting to see Griffen at his best Sunday.

"I think he's going to be himself," Decker said of Griffen. "They had him on a pitch count it seemed like (last week), but we're fully expecting him to be back full strength and full speed and full snaps. We know what kind of player he is. He's a high-level pass rusher."

In 14 career games against the Lions, Griffen has 11.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss.

"There is a level of familiarity," Decker said of going against Griffen twice a year. "But that also has a level of difficulty, because not only do I kind of know what he does, but he knows what I do. It's a unique challenge."


The loss of Tate has dominated the news cycle this week, but the offensive players over in Minnesota haven't forgotten about the big addition the Lions added to their defense last week by trading for Damon Harrison.

"I think bringing in Harrison at the nose guard is a good addition for them," Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins told "I think he's a great player; I played against him in the NFC East a fair amount and always felt like he had a great impact on the game. So he's a great player, and we'll have our hands full with him."

Harrison recorded seven tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack in his Lions debut last week vs. Seattle.

Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was a teammate of Harrison's from 2013-2015 with the Jets. He's fully aware of the capabilities Harrison has to impact a game, and the challenge his offensive line faces Sunday.

"Stout, hard to move, but definitely is a guy that wants it," Sheldon told the website. "He was an undrafted guy, feels like he's better than that, still plays with a chip on his shoulder, and that's what he brings, day-in and day-out."

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