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Lions vs. Texans recap: 5 winners, 3 losers from Saturday night’s game

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A look at the best and worst performances from Saturday night.

NFL: Preseason-Detroit Lions at Houston Texans John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions weren’t exactly at their best on Saturday night against the Houston Texans, but it was certainly a step in the right direction following their stinker of a preseason opener. Unlike that game against the Patriots, there were several players who stuck out in a positive way.

While it was a step in the right direction, not everyone’s performance was on the up-and-up. So here are five winners and three losers from the Lions’ 30-23 loss to the Texans.

Winner: David Fales

Without a doubt, David Fales was the biggest winner of the night. Fales had struggled tremendously in training camp and was downright awful in the preseason opener. Saturday night, he was a completely different quarterback. He was connecting on downfield throws, he was avoiding pressure in the pocket, and he led touchdown drives in two of his first three possessions.

Of course, he was doing it this week against threes and fours, while he struggled against ones and twos last week. But on a day in which he almost had a perfect passer rating, you’ve got to give it up for David Fales.

Loser: Josh Johnson

It’s an extremely tough ask to sign a quarterback off the street and ask him to immediately compete under an unfamiliar offensive coordinator and with a cast of players you’ve never played with. But Johnson didn’t look up to the task at all on Saturday.

With how bad Fales had looked, Johnson was already the presumed backup to Matthew Stafford if Tom Savage isn’t recovered from his concussion, but now it looks like there’s still a competition to be had.

Johnson didn’t complete a single pass in the opening quarter and looked like he came with a considerable amount of rust to knock off.

Winner: Romeo Okwara

The Lions’ pass rush was a dud in this game again, but the lone exception to that was backup Romeo Okwara. The Lions’ down end had at least three pressures on Saturday night, which, alone, would be a pretty good night for a half of a game. But Okwara added a sack and a forced fumble that resulted in Detroit’s first touchdown of the preseason.

Okwara was one of the few defensive linemen out there Saturday that should see a good amount of playing time during the regular season. So it’s promising to see him do especially well.

Loser: Kick/Punt return game

It didn’t matter who was out there—Jamal Agnew, Tommylee Lewis, Tom Kennedy—the Lions kick and punt return game was downright awful against the Texans. By the end of the game, here was the damage:

Kick returns: 4 returns for 56 yards (average: 14.0)
Punt returns: 3 returns for 8 yards (2.7)

Throw in a muffed catch from Kennedy and a couple of special teams penalties and you can tell special teams coach John Bonamego has his work cut out for him.

As of right now, the Lions’ competition for kick returner is wide open. Jamal Agnew seems like the favorite for punt returner, but even he seems to be struggling right now.

Winner: Jalen Reeves-Maybin

Reeves-Maybin finished first on the team in solo tackles (5), and tackles for loss (1), but his impact went beyond there. He also had a pass defended and nearly had another tackle for loss.

This is back-to-back great performances for Reeves-Maybin, and at this point it may be best to consider him a roster lock. He’s the best coverage linebacker the team has, he’s looked bigger and stronger in run defense, and he plays special teams, too.

Winner: Will Harris

The Lions’ third-round rookie has struggled in camp and preseason, but Saturday was a huge step forward for Harris. I still have questions about his coverage abilities, but Harris was all over the field against the Texans, playing well over half the snaps.

Obviously, the main focus will be on the touchdown he scored, but that’s more about being in the right place at the right time. I was more impressed by Harris’ ability to get his nose dirty in the run game, and he even had a pass defended, too.

Loser: P.J. Johnson

If there’s one thing that has looked consistently good throughout the preseason, it’s the Lions’ ability to defend the run. That all changed in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s preseason game.

With seventh-round rookie P.J. Johnson manning the nose tackle, the Texans were able to run out a lot of clock at the end of the game. Just check the stats:

Lions run defense, first half: 15 rushes, 39 yards (2.6 YPC)
Lions run defense, second half: 23 rushes, 129 yards (5.6 YPC)

To put all of that on Johnson would be ridiculous, but the Texans gained 94 yards on the ground in the fourth quarter, and that was when Johnson got the majority of his playing time, and you could see Texans offensive linemen dictating the game with him on tape.

Winner: Travis Fulgham

This highlight alone would be enough to warrant “winner” status, but Fulgham added another decent catch late in the third quarter.

The Lions are still searching for their primary backups at wide receiver, and Fulgham certainly made an impression on the day with three catches for 52 yards.