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Lions vs. Steelers: What just happened?

Thoughts and analysis on the Lions first game of the year.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Football is finally back. Sort of. After a grueling summer of only baseball to enjoy after basketball went away, we can finally say that there is some variation of Lions football on our television screens. In true preseason form, this was the kind of game that put some fans to sleep early on in the contest.

If you were hoping to have some questions answered about the first team offense or defense, you probably didn't get any answers from Friday nights game. We did, however, get to see a lot of other players that are fighting for roster spots put their best foot forward in this game. As I will for every game this year, I took some notes on what stood out to me in the Lions 30-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. These are those notes.

Matthew Stafford looked alright

It was only one series and he did fumble the ball at the end of it, but that fumble had a lot to do with another player who we will get to soon. In the meantime, the Lions moved the ball quite well with Stafford after some early ugliness that made fans throw up in their mouths a little. We didn't need to see much from Stafford in this game, but still, 4-for-6 isn't bad for one series.

Marvin Jones showed what he is capable of

Again, it was only a small serving size. Just one target and one reception to be exact. Still, Marvin Jones' single 16-yard reception was just pretty. The former Bengal snatched down a pass from Stafford and dragged his feet out of bounds like an old pro. I hope to see more of this next week. But I like what I see thus far from Jones.

Taylor Decker needs some work

It's understandable. He's a rookie playing his first NFL game ever at a very important position on the offensive line. At times he held his own, at other times it rained and poured. Decker went from getting beat to getting called for holding: a call that brought back a first down scramble by Stafford. On the next play, it all fell down and Decker got beat out of his rookie shoes. This time it led to a Matthew Stafford fumble. It wasn't the worst thing I've ever seen. But Decker definitely needs to get things going in the right direction quickly.

Zach Zenner shines on his stage

Last month I called Zach Zenner a camp darling. I still feel this way about him. Having said that, he made a case for himself to make the 53-man roster yet again in 2016. Zenner ran for 24 yards on seven carries and made some people miss. If he is a camp darling, this is his stage and he shined on it. His issue is that George Winn also looked decent when he got his shots. It will come down to special teams for this one.

Go away, Dan

I won't get too much into this. That interception was just dumb. I get that Dan wants to make things happen, but that was one of those moments where you just have to take a loss to succeed. Dan refused to do that which is why he looked dumb.

Andre Roberts makes a great case

Andre Roberts doesn't seem to be on too many radars when it comes to figuring out which receivers will make the 53-man roster. Friday night, he showed that he should be a giant blip. Roberts led all receivers with 57 receiving yards, 28 of which came on a beautiful pass play that saw the former Cardinal take it to the house. With TJ Jones and Jeremy Kerley having such bad days, it looks like Roberts will be able to slide in and carve out a role for himself.

The young guys went out and got it

I'm mainly talking about rookies Jace Billingsley and Dwayne Washington. Though these are two guys who have practice squad written all over them, Friday night they looked like guys that already have a job locked down. Washington took a kick return 96 yards to the house in the fourth quarter and shortly thereafter, Jace Billingsley made a few guys miss on his 27-yard scamper to the end zone. A lot of the young guys put in work on Friday, but these two stood out the most.

Am I wrong about Jake Rudock?


Lions won, but work must be done all around

It was nice to see the Lions open up the preseason with a meaningless rout of the Steelers, but what can't be ignored is that the Lions turned the ball over twice in this game. There's a clear chance that this Lions offense can be an offense that scores a ton of points. There's also a clear chance that things could go very bad very fast if turnovers and blocking continues to be an issue. Time to get to work.

Keep this in mind: it's only preseason

Regardless of what happened to the Lions or any other team in their first preseason game, it doesn't mean that team is now the best or the worst. Lions fans, perhaps more than any other fan base, should know the hazards of being very happy about an overly successful preseason. So if you scored 30 points, or you scored no points at all like the Chicago Bears did on Thursday night, it's not a reflection of where your season is going to end up. This is not the time to brag or talk smack. Everybody sucks and is great right now.

What are your thoughts Lions fans? What did you see that needs to be discussed? Be sure to leave your comments below or come yell at me on Twitter @POD_Payton.

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