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Detroit Lions preseason Week 1 snap counts: 11 observations on playing time vs. Patriots

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A look at the participation numbers from Thursday’s preseason opener.

New England Patriots v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Snap counts during the preseason can say a lot about a team. If a player is getting a ton of playing time, especially late in the game, it can be an indication that coaches need to see more from that player to make the final 53-man roster. Conversely, if a guy barely plays at all, it either means his roster spot is safe or he’s an extreme long shot to make the roster.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Detroit Lions’ preseason snap counts for Thursday’s game against the New England Patriots.

Offense:

Quarterbacks

David Fales: 34 (76%)
Tom Savage: 11 (24%)

Running backs

Mark Thompson: 17 (38%) — 10 special teams snaps (38%)
Ty Johnson: 13 (29%)
Zach Zenner: 12 (27%) — 15 (58%)
Nick Bawden: 4 (9%) — 8 (31%)
C.J. Anderson: 3 (7%)

Tight ends

Jerome Cunningham: 15 (33%) — 13 (50%)
Isaac Nauta: 14 (31%) — 9 (35%)
Logan Thomas: 10 (22%) — 9 (35%)
Austin Traylor: 9 (20%) — 10 (38%)
Jesse James: 7 (16%)
T.J. Hockenson: 6 (13%)

Wide receivers

Jonathan Duhart: 24 (53%) — 10 (38%)
Travis Fulgham: 24 (53%) — 4 (15%)
Andy Jones: 20 (44%) — 6 (23%)
Chris Lacy: 15 (33%) — 12 (46%)
Brandon Powell: 14 (31%) — 6 (23%)
Tom Kennedy: 13 (29%) — 6 (23%)
Jermaine Kearse: 5 (11%)

Offensive tackles

Andrew Donnal: 39 (87%) — 1 (4%)
Tyrell Crosby: 39 (87%)
Rick Wagner: 5 (11%)
Taylor Decker: 5 (11%)
Matt Nelson: 1 (2%) — 1 (4%)
Ryan Pope: 1 (2%) — 1 (4%)

Guards/centers

Luke Bowanko: 23 (51%)
Joe Dahl: 18 (40%)
Oday Aboushi: 18 (40%)
Leo Koloamatangi: 17 (38%)
Kenny Wiggins: 14 (31%)
Graham Glasgow: 14 (31%)
Micah St. Andrew: 13 (29%)
Beau Benzschawel: 13 (29%)
Frank Ragnow: 5 (11%)

Observations:

  • Despite all of the training camp hype, T.J. Hockenson barely played in the preseason opener and did not receive a single target in his six plays.
  • Interesting to note that Ty Johnson didn’t play a single special teams snap. Many believed one reason he may stick around on the roster is his value as a return specialist, but he didn’t get any opportunities against the Patriots.
  • The Lions’ second-team offensive tackles played nearly the entire game, with Detroit choosing not to even play Ryan Pope and Matt Nelson, their third-string tackles. Their only snap of the game was the final kneel down.
  • I suppose you can rest easy knowing what is likely to be the starting offensive line all played significantly less than their second-string counterparts, meaning most of the damage done Thursday night was by reserves.
  • The Old Dominion rookie receivers led the group in snaps, but neither made a catch against New England despite three combined targets.

Defense:

Defensive end

Eric Lee: 79 (94%) — 2 (8%)
Mitchell Loewen: 53 (63%) — 4 (15%)
Jonathan Wynn: 34 (40%) — 1 (4%)
Romeo Okwara: 6 (7%)

Defensive tackle

Kevin Strong: 51 (61%) — 2 (8%)
John Atkins: 41 (49%) — 2 (8%)
P.J. Johnson: 36 (43%)
Fred Jones: 16 (19%) — 2 (8%)
Darius Kilgo: 15 (18%) — 1 (4%)

Linebackers

Miles Killebrew: 55 (65%) — 10 (38%)
Anthony Pittman: 51 (61%) — 10 (38%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 41 (49%) — 5 (19%)
Tre Lamar: 17 (20%) — 2 (8%)
Jahlani Tavai: 4 (5%) — 2 (8%)

Cornerbacks

Mike Ford: 63 (75%) — 9 (35%)
Amani Oruwariye: 57 (68%) — 7 (27%)
Jamal Agnew: 39 (46%) — 5 (19%)
Dee Virgin: 21 (25%) — 12 (46%)
Andre Chachere: 20 (24%) — 6 (23%)
Justin Coleman: 6 (7%)
Darius Slay: 6 (7%)
Jonathan Alston: 0 (0%) — 1 (4%)

Safety

Andrew Adams: 59 (70%) — 9 (25%)
Will Harris: 57 (68%) — 19 (73%)
Tavon Wilson: 42 (50%) — 7 (27%)
C.J. Moore: 35 (42%) — 11 (42%)
Charles Washington: 14 (17%) — 12 (46%)
Tracy Walker: 6 (7%)

Observations:

  • Kudos to Eric Lee for almost playing the entire preseason game. And given how often the defense was out there, that’s a heck of a workload. He played in 16 more snaps than any other Lions player on the team.
  • Darius Slay and Justin Coleman played for a defensive series. After the game, head coach Matt Patricia said this wasn’t a punishment or a sending of a message to Slay.
  • The safety numbers are quite interesting. Both Andrew Adams and Tavon Wilson got a good chunk of playing time, both on defense and special teams. Wilson made a bigger impression during his playing time, but Adams had a team-high six tackles.
  • Rookie DBs Will Harris and Amani Oruwariye both got long looks on Thursday. That’s good news, because both could use the game-time reps now. They may not get much playing time during the regular season of their rookie years.
  • Miles Killebrew did well with his 55 snaps, as the Lions moved him all over in just about every linebacker position out there.
  • The Lions’ first and second-round rookies combined for 10 total snaps. So much for rookies needing those reps.

Special teams

Don Muhlbach: 9 (35%)
Ryan Santoso: 7 (27%)
Sam Martin: 5 (19%)