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Lions 2017 snap counts: Full breakdown of playing time through 6 weeks

A look at the playing time distribution through six weeks of football.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, we offer up snap counts from individual weeks after a Detroit Lions game. It’s an interesting look at how Jim Caldwell and the Lions utilize their players. We get a look at who they thought may provide them a strategic advantage or who may be mismatched against their opponent.

But today, let’s look at the entire season as a whole. I want to look at which players are receiving the most playing time and see if we can pick out any trends while we’re at it. Here’s a look at the entire playing time percentages of each player that spent time on the Lions roster this year.



Matthew Stafford - 100% of snaps

Running back

Ameer Abdullah - 44.6%
Theo Riddick - 39.8%
Zach Zenner - 10.7%
Dwayne Washington - 5.1%

Obviously Abdullah is the lead back, but it’s a bit surprising how little he’s being used. It’s no surprise he’s not out there for third downs, but you’d expect the Lions to put their best runner—by a longshot—out there at least half of the time.

Wide receiver

Marvin Jones - 94.9%
Golden Tate - 77.6%
TJ Jones- 46.5%
Kenny Golladay - 29.6%
Jared Abbrederis - 19.5%

TJ Jones has been getting a huge portion of snaps, partially because of Golladay’s injury, partially because he’s earned it. Even when Golladay was in the game, Jones was getting around 25 percent of snaps. Obviously that percentage skyrocketed after Golladay’s hamstring injury.

Tight end

Eric Ebron - 58.3%
Darren Fells - 56.4%
Michael Roberts - 15.4%

A lot of people may be mad to see Eric Ebron have more playing time than Darren Fells, even if it’s by literally just eight snaps. However, the trend has moving moving in Fells’ direction. Check it out:

Ebron has seen a pretty steady decline in playing time since Week 3’s game against the Falcons.

Offensive line:

Graham Glasgow - 100%
Rick Wagner - 98.8%
Greg Robinson - 94.9%
Travis Swanson - 83.1%
T.J. Lang - 80.2%
Zac Kerin - 16.9%
Emmett Cleary - 13.0%
Tim Lelito - 6.7%
Briah Mihalik - 6.3%

In a twist of cruel irony, the only starting offensive lineman who has played every snap this season has also been one of Detroit’s worst. Graham Glasgow has struggled to improve in his sophomore year like many had hoped.

It may not seem like it, but the Lions’ offensive line has actually been pretty healthy all year. The only reason the numbers look so bad is the Saints game—which had a season-high 81 offensive snaps. In that game, Lang, Robinson, and Wagner combined for a total of 107 missed snaps.


Defensive ends:

Anthony Zettel - 58.7%
Ezekiel Ansah - 53.1%
Cornelius Washington - 37.8%
Jeremiah Valoaga - 24.7%
George Johnson - 20.7%
Alex Barrett - 6.6%

While Lions fans are frustrated at the lack of production from Ansah, who is clearly still not 100 percent healthy, look to the depth for the bigger issue. Zettel and Ansah are on the field for barely over half of the game. For the other 40+ percent of snaps, they are getting no production out of their depth.

Defensive tackles:

A’Shawn Robinson - 62.0%
Akeem Spence - 54.3%
Jeremiah Ledbetter - 39.3%
Haloti Ngata - 37.0%
Caraun Reid - 4.6%

It’s clear Robinson and Spence are the team’s top two defensive tackles, but the main question here is who will take over Haloti Ngata’s portion of the snaps? Detroit only has three defensive tackles on their current roster, but Khyri Thornton’s suspension is up. Will he return to the lineup and be paired up with Jeremiah Ledbetter as the second-team defensive tackles? All signs seem to point to yes.


Tahir Whitehead - 85.7%
Jarrad Davis - 64.8%
Nick Bellore - 21.9%
Jalen Reeves-Maybin - 18.4%
Paul Worrilow - 17.1%
Steve Longa - 3.6%

Injuries have shuffled these number around quite a bit, as Jarrad Davis and Paul Worrilow have both missed a few games. Davis has played in every single snap since returning from injury in Week 5, and Worrilow is expected back soon, meaning that Jalen Reeves-Maybin will probably see a significant dip in playing time going forward.


Darius Slay - 99.2%
Quandre Diggs - 57.4%
Nevin Lawson - 56.1%
DJ Hayden - 42.6%
Teez Tabor - 0.8%
Jamal Agnew - 0.3%

Darius Slay is this year’s defensive iron man, playing in all but three snaps so far this year.

The most interesting thing about the Lions’ cornerback snap distribution is the on-going competition between Nevin Lawson and DJ Hayden. It has been back and forth every week.


Glover Quin - 91.3%
Tavon Wilson - 64.5%
Miles Killebrew - 58.7%
Charles Washington - 19.1%

Miles Killebrew has seen a huge jump in playing time from 2016 to 2017. How big? Killebrew only played in 13.7 percent of snaps last year, meaning he’s seeing the field in 45 percent more snaps this year.

It may be surprising to see that Charles Washington has been such a big factor this year, but he’s clearly the player the Lions view as the second-best coverage safety. He came in to replace Quin after the concussion, and he’s often brought in on obvious passing third down situations.