Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell spoke to the media Monday following Sunday's heartbreaking 19-17 loss in Minnesota on a last-second field goal.
Campbell opened his media session by praising the defensive performance Sunday, especially the secondary, but he did say they have to seal the deal at the end of the game, which they couldn't do in allowing a couple chunk plays by the Vikings to set up the winning field goal.
He liked the offensive performance at times, especially late getting 11 points to take the lead, but lamented the two turnovers in Minnesota territory and the long stretches of ineffectiveness. He said they have to protect the football better.
Here are all the key questions from Monday's press conference:
What are the injury updates from Sunday?
Unfortunately it's bad news for second-year wide receiver Quintez Cephus, who left the game in the second quarter and did not return. Campbell confirmed it's a broken collar bone for Cephus, and he's going to be out a number of weeks, if not the remainder of the season. Campbell said they'll know more about the length of recovery later Monday afternoon.
Are there any updates on the potential return of some players eligible to come off IR?
There is some good news on that front. Campbell said defensive end Kevin Strong is expected to be back this week.
There's also a chance left tackle Taylor Decker returns after missing the first five games with a finger/hand injury. Campbell said they'll know more about Decker on Wednesday. If Decker is back this week, Campbell said the tentative plan is to put him back at left tackle and move rookie Penei Sewell to right tackle.
There's also a chance wide receiver Tyrell Williams could return this week. Defensive end Da'Shawn Hand will still be on IR for a bit.
How do the Lions get Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson rolling again?
Hockenson caught eight passes and a touchdown in each of Detroit's first two contests. But over the last three games, he's caught just eight passes combined with no touchdowns.
Campbell said there's no doubt they have to find a way to get Hockenson going. There were some timing issues with some plays to Hockenson Sunday, and Campbell attributed some of that to Hockenson not practicing until Friday last week due to a knee injury.
"The bottom line is we have to get him going," Campbell said. "That's the bottom line, because he can help us win. That's going to be a focal point for us."
How can the Lions get some big-play opportunities incorporated into the offense?
Quarterback Jared Goff is at the bottom of the league in air yards per attempt. Is he being aggressive enough for Campbell's liking?
"I think he's trying to take chances sometimes to a fault," Campbell said. "I think he's trying to get it downfield when sometimes maybe he ought to just go to his first look."
Campbell said Hockenson was open on a hitch route on the play where Goff was sacked and fumbled the ball Sunday. Just take the hitch and there's not an issue with the sack fumble, Campbell said.
But Campbell also made the point that he and the coaching staff have to do a better job of finding a way to push the ball down the field, and be able to protect Goff while doing it. Minnesota had seven explosive plays Sunday. Detroit had five, four of which were passes, but three of those were runs after the catch.
"We have to do a better job as a staff of designing these shots and protecting him and get it down field," Campbell said. "I think we have to do a better job of protecting."
Hopefully Decker's potential return will help in that regard.
After watching the film, is there anything they'd do different on the final defensive possession?
After scoring a touchdown and adding a two-point conversion to take a 17-16 lead, Minnesota got the ball back at their 18-yard line with 37 seconds left needing a field goal to win. The Vikings had completions of 21, 6 and 19 yards to reach the Detroit 36-yard line and kick a 54-yard field goal from there.
Campbell said in that situation they were trying to help more to Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson than they were Adam Thielen, with Jefferson having 124 receiving yards in the game up to that point. It's easy in hindsight to say the Lions should have tilted the other way. Campbell said the Lions young cornerbacks bit on some eye candy Minnesota threw at them on some routes, and they will learn from it.
What did Campbell think of the play of safety Tracy Walker Sunday?
Walker led the Lions with nine tackles and also recorded a tackle for loss and a pass defended. He was Detroit's highest graded defender in the contest by Pro Football Focus.
Campbell said Walker's performance in Minnesota made a case for him being a three-down safety who never comes off the field moving forward.
"That's the Tracy that we know and have been waiting to come out of his shell," Campbell said. "Tell you what, he played calm and confident. He played physical and he communicated well. It was great to see. He played like a top-notch safety yesterday. He was a factor."