One of the biggest cliches for the NFL Playoffs is “experience matters.” Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett specifically addressed this in his teleconference on Tuesday.
“There might be some guys that get nervous, there’s so many, it’s such a big atmosphere. There will be guys on our team that’s not familiar with it that’s going to be kind of nervous, too. There’s the guys that are familiar with the playoffs and familiar with the games, and they treat the game just like a regular game. There’s obviously people that don’t do that.”
For the Seahawks, experience in the postseason isn’t much of an issue. Though they have some new faces this season, this is a team that has been to the playoffs in five of their past six seasons.
The Detroit Lions, however, have only played in two playoffs games since 1999. Not only that, but their roster is filled with young players that haven’t even been around long enough to see Detroit’s 2014 playoff loss to the Cowboys.
In total, 24 players on the Lions’ current 53-man roster could be playing in their first postseason game of all time. Here’s a look at each of them:
Second year players:
Third year players:
Kerry Hyder (Jets practice squad in 2014)
TJ Jones (PUP in 2014)
Nevin Lawson (IR in 2014)
Khyri Thornton (on Packers IR in 2014)
Then there are five veterans on the Lions that have never played in a playoff game before. Here’s each of their stories:
The special teams ace was stuck on the Cleveland Browns for the first four years of his NFL career. During his Browns career, Cleveland won a total of 19 games and never truly sniffed the playoffs. Now, in his first year with Detroit, he will get a chance to appear and contribute in the playoffs for the first time.
Copeland has been around the league since 2013. Though he briefly appeared on the Ravens and Titans—both of whom missed the playoffs anyways—he didn’t appear in an NFL game until 2015 with the Lions.
Of all the Lions players, Roberts has had to wait the longest to make his postseason debut. Roberts had a good, long career with the Arizona Cardinals from 2010 to 2013. Unfortunately for Roberts, those were the middle four years in between two postseason appearances. Last season, he was with Washington, who made the Wild Card round of the playoffs, but Roberts was placed on IR in December with a knee injury.
Walker was still a budding player in the NFL when he was part of the 2013 New Orleans Saints team that would lose in the divisional round of the playoffs that year. Walker was part of the 53-man roster the entire year, but only made the gameday roster seven times. He was a healthy scratch in the Saints’ two playoff games that year.
Warford has been around long enough to be part of a Lions playoff team. He started 13 games in the 2014 playoff season, but a knee injury held him out of Detroit’s one and only playoff game that year.
The good news for Detroit is that their heavy contributors have already been introduced to the NFL postseason. For players like Matthew Stafford, Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin, Glover Quin, DeAndre Levy and Haloti Ngata, the weight of a playoff game is well known.
Still, with the Lions having a whopping 11 rookies on their 53-man roster, you have to wonder if the Lions may just be too green to make a playoff run this year.