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10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Which Lion has been the biggest surprise performer this season?

Throughout the course of the regular season Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: How about I give you one of each?

I think everyone in Allen Park and the fan base have been pleasantly surprised with rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez. The sixth-round draft pick earned a starting role out of training camp and has been a core contributor since Day 1. He leads the team with six tackles for loss and was nominated for Rookie of the Week after recording seven tackles, his first career sack and recovering a fumble in Detroit's loss to Miami in Week 8. He's third on the team with 64 tackles and has a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery. He's been really steady all year. He looks like he can be a foundational piece on defense.

I was in Indianapolis for the joint practices when running back D’Andre Swift told a small number of reporters his goal for this season was 1,000 rushing and receiving yards. Unfortunately, ankle and shoulder injuries have limited him severely over the last two months and he's currently at 292 rushing yards and 186 receiving. Look, injuries happen, but they've been too much of the story with Swift these first three seasons. It looks like he's getting healthier, and hopefully he's back to being his old self for the stretch run, but Jamaal Williams is clearly the No. 1 back here now, and Swift doesn't look like he'll get anywhere close to his preseason goals for 2022.

20man: I ran across this recent tweet by NFL on Fox about the current health of every team in the NFL. It quantifies how injuries affect the overall team position and player performance on a scale of 0-100. It was following Week 11, so it's a couple weeks old, but you'll see Detroit falls right in the middle of the league in terms of the number of injuries impacting performance. This week's opponent, Jacksonville, has been the least affected by injury.

I know the injury reports have been long some weeks for the Lions, but just imagine being a fan of the Rams, Broncos or Chargers. They've been decimated by key injuries up and down their lineup.

20man: There has been some clock stuff here and there I haven't always been on board with. I think the end of the first half last week vs. Buffalo is a good example. Instead of milking the clock and making it harder for Buffalo to drive and score before the end of the half, Campbell chose to be aggressive. He said he wanted to score quick, stop Buffalo and get the ball back to try and score again. I just thought that was a really aggressive approach against that team and that quarterback, but that's Campbell.

I'm in the building every day, and I can tell you the players love Campbell and play their butts off for him. The culture change everyone refers to in Allen Park is real. Campbell can lead a team, no question about it, and when the talent on this roster better matches his more aggressive style, it's going to be fun to watch.

My expectation for this team coming into the season was to at least double their win total from a year ago and be in the playoff conversation in December and January. Those two goals are still in reach for this team, so I think Campbell is right on schedule for where he should have this team in his second season.

20man: Saturday is correct. He's currently still on NFI (non-football injury) and the team will have to activate him before his 21-day practice window runs out, which would be the week of the Jets game. They'll also have to make room for him on the roster.

I'm still not closing the door on Williams playing this week, though Campbell did say it was going to be a long shot. I would be surprised, however, if he didn't play the week after against Minnesota at Ford Field. I could see something like what they did with DJ Chark and Josh Reynolds when they returned from injury. Have a certain number of snaps and packages for him and ease him in.

20man: Swift is feeling better after dealing with ankle and shoulder injuries for most of the season, but I think Jamaal Williams has surpassed him as the No. 1 back. Not only does Williams fit this tough-nosed run style, but when running backs coach Duce Staley used words like reliable, dependable and trust when talking about Williams, I thought that said a lot.

Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and Staley will always go with the hot hand, and Swift can certainly get hot quickly, as we've seen at times with his big-play potential, but I think that's something he must now earn. I think the Lions go into a game thinking Williams is going to lead them in carries with Swift being a change of pace. A few big plays early by Swift can change things, but I don't think there's a situation where the Lions go into a game planning on Swift getting more carries than Williams.

20man: One thing you must know about professional athletes I've learned over the years is they are some of the most supremely confident people you'll ever met. Until a team is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, they always believe they have a shot.

Just the way the Lions have played over the last month, going 3-1 with their one loss being in last-second fashion against Super Bowl contender Buffalo, the confidence is sky high with this club right now. They are playing some pretty good ball, and they believe they can make a run these last six games.

20man: I'll set it at 5. That's just how this works when two players get taken at the same position No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft. They'll always be linked to one another.

Jacksonville took Travon Walker No. 1 overall in this year's draft, which allowed Aidan Hutchinson to fall to the Lions at No. 2. The Lions were reprimanded by the league because they turned their card in with Hutchinson's name on it so quickly. It's safe to say the Lions got their man.

Hutchinson has had more impact than Walker in terms of pass rush and big plays (5.5 sacks and two interceptions). I talked to some people in Jacksonville this week and asked them about Walker. He's still a work in progress in terms of his pass rush skills, but his athletic traits are through the roof. He plays linebacker and rush end for them, and they love his potential. Each team got their man. We'll see who ends up being the more productive player.

20man: Pro Bowl guard Jonah Jackson is trending toward a return Sunday after missing the Buffalo game with a concussion. He's working through the return-to-play protocol and hasn't had any setbacks.

Not as good of news for the other starting guard, Evan Brown. He's missed both the first two days of practice this week as he's still hampered by an ankle injury.

If Brown can't go, it will likely be either Kayode Awosika or Dan Skipper again. It was a rough outing for both players against the Bills. Both allowed a sack and two pressures. They also received the two worst grades on the team from a run-blocking perspective. The return of Jackson is great, but the Lions will miss Brown if he can't go.

20man: Are you forgetting the Lions have the best of both worlds right now?

Detroit has played better football over the last month. Continuing to do so and being in the hunt in December and January would go a long way for this young football team's future.

And thanks to the Matthew Stafford trade, the Lions own the Los Angeles Rams' first-round pick next season, which right now is the No. 3 overall pick.

I'd like to see this team play good ball down the stretch and win some games. They can do that, and still potentially have a top five pick because of the Rams and the all the injuries and losses they've had to endure this season. I think that would be the biggest win-win for this organization.

20man: It's something to monitor certainly, but knowing Sewell, I think it's unlikely it keeps him out of the lineup Sunday.

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