The Detroit Lions will face off against their rival Green Bay Packers on Sunday. With no playoff stakes on the line, many deem this game “meaningless.” However, for several players on the field, it’s anything but meaningless. For young players, it’s another chance to get better, learn from on-the-field experience and get somewhat meaningful snaps. For soon-to-be free agents, it’s an opportunity to not only put good tape out there, but to prove to future employers that you give it 100 percent in any and all situations.
So with that in mind, here are five things to watch in the Detroit Lions’ season finale.
With Nevin Lawson already declared out for the game and DJ Hayden downgraded to questionable because of an illness, it’s almost a certainty that Tabor will see a season-high in playing time.
The rookie cornerback was essentially a healthy scratch until Week 8 and he is just now getting meaningful playing time. The Packers may have their best receivers on the sideline for the game, but this is still a great opportunity to build some confidence heading into 2015.
Tion Green continuing to improve
The Lions’ running back situation for 2018 is completely up in the air. Outside of Theo Riddick, it doesn’t appear that anyone’s job is safe. Although it seems like a certainty that the Lions bring in some outside help at running back this year, Tion Green has the opportunity to prove he deserves to be part of the unit next year.
Green has played well in spot duty over the past month, rushing for 144 yards in 33 carries (4.4 YPC), but this could be an opportunity for the Lions to see what he can do in a starting role with a heavy load of carries. Tion had 11 carries in one game, but I’d like to see what he could do with more. The Packers, as beat up as they are, have a pretty good run defense, so this is a great time for a test.
Ezekiel Ansah building a case
Ansah is coming off his second three-sack performance this year, but the rest of 2017 has largely been a disappointment for the free agent to be. Injuries have robbed Ansah a chance at reaching his full potential (yet again), but Ansah has been off the injury report for some time now.
This is Ansah’s final opportunity to not only convince the Lions that he’s a monster when he’s healthy, but to prove he can actually finish a game (and season) healthy.
The future 2018 offensive line?
With Travis Swanson out for the year and facing his first free agency, the Lions may be sporting a front five on Sunday that matches their starters for next year:
Taylor Decker - Joe Dahl - Graham Glasgow - T.J. Lang - Rick Wagner
The Lions have literally never played with that combination of players all season, so it’ll be interesting to see how they work as a team. The only player that won’t necessarily be a starter next year is Joe Dahl, but if he continues to play pretty well, he could certainly earn the job for 2018.
Money, Money, Money, Money. MONEEEEEEEY
Several players may not be out to prove something, but rather earn bonus incentives built in their contract. ESPN’s Michael Rothstein has a rundown of all the escalators built into the contracts, but here are a few interesting ones:
- Cornelius Washington needs 3.5 sacks to earn $250,000
- Tahir Whitehead needs to finish the season with 60 percent of playing time for a $250,000 bonus. He’s enters the game at 88.5 percent, so this should be a gimme.
- Akeem Spence earns $375,000 if he finishes above a 45 percent playing rate and another $375,000 if he finishes above 55 percent. He enters the game at 61.3 percent.