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Detroit Lions Week 7 snap count observations: Wide receivers benched in favor of tight ends

The Lions went much heavier with their tight ends against the Rams.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a closer look at the Detroit Lions Week 7 snap count in their 28-19 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Offense

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff: 69 (100%)

Running backs

D’Andre Swift: 52 (75%)
Jamaal Williams: 20 (29%)
Godwin Igwebuike: 0 (0%) — 16 (65%)

For the first time all season, the Lions found themselves in the game for all four quarters, meaning they could actually run the ball with the lead for the first time. Interestingly, however, that did not seem to change their running back distribution much. While Williams got more carries, Swift is still outsnapping him by more than double.

Godwin Igwebuike took kick return duties back this week, while Jermar Jefferson was inactive again after making his NFL debut last week.

Tight ends

T.J. Hockenson: 55 (80%)
Darren Fells: 28 (41%) — 2 (8%)
Brock Wright: 17 (25%) — 20 (80%)

This was the first noticeable roster shake-up that head coach Dan Campbell hinted at last week. The Lions utilized their tight ends far more often against the Rams, opting to take a wide receiver out and run less 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE). Though Hockenson’s playing time wasn’t altered much (even with a knee injury), Fells saw the most snaps of his 2021 season while Wright was active in his NFL debut.

It’s clear the Lions’ frustrations with their receiver corps have reached a boiling point, and they may simply be more comfortable having a second—or sometimes third—tight end out there at a time.

Wide receivers

Kalif Raymond: 56 (81%) — 1 (4%)
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 43 (62%) — 6 (24%)
KhaDarel Hodge: 33 (48%) — 6 (24%)
Geronimo Allison: 32 (46%) — 9 (36%)
Tom Kennedy: 9 (13%)

Unsurprisingly, every wide receiver saw their playing time dip this week with the prevalence of more multiple tight end sets. The one exception is Geronimo Allison, who continues to see his playing time increase, yet has not brought the production with him. Despite playing 45 snaps in the past two weeks, Allison has yet to record his first catch of the year.

Offensive tackles

Matt Nelson: 69 (100%) — 5 (20%)
Penei Sewell: 69 (100%) — 5 (20%)
Will Holden: 0 (0%) — 5 (20%)

Nice.

Guards/centers

Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 69 (100%) — 5 (20%)
Jonah Jackson: 69 (100%) — 5 (20%)
Evan Brown: 69 (100%)
Ryan McCollum: 0 (0%) — 5 (20%)
Logan Stenberg: 0 (0%) — 3 (12%)

Nice to see the Lions’ entire offensive line stick together, especially considering the injuries they’ve dealt with this season.

Defense

EDGE:

Charles Harris: 52 (80%) — 4 (16%)
Trey Flowers: 40 (62%)
Julian Okwara: 35 (54%) — 11 (44%)
Austin Bryant: 12 (18%) — 11 (44%)

With Trey Flowers clearly still hurting from his knee injury, Charles Harris had top duties on Sunday. Meanwhile, Julian Okwara’s 35 snaps is a career-high, and he made some of the biggest plays for the Lions defense, including a fourth-down pass breakup and the team’s only sack of the game.

Defensive tackle

Nick Williams: 37 (57%) — 1 (4%)
Michael Brockers: 32 (49%)
Levi Onwuzurike: 22 (34%) — 4 (16%)
Alim McNeill: 17 (26%)
John Penisini: 13 (20%) — 3 (12%)
Jashon Cornell: 4 (6%)

Michael Brockers saw the biggest week-to-week change, dropping from 78 percent of playing time to just 49 this week. In response, Levi Onwuzurike saw a pretty significant bump in play. However, overall, the Lions devoted fewer resources in this defensive interior in this game, knowing their primary goal would be to stop the pass.

Cornell got his first looks of the season. Chances are they were very important snaps for him, because Kevin Strong and Da’Shawn Hand appear close to returning, and the Lions won’t be able to carry them all on their 53-man roster.

Linebackers

Alex Anzalone: 61 (94%) — 4 (16%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 47 (72%) — 5 (20%)
Derrick Barnes: 20 (31%) — 4 (16%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 20 (80%)
Josh Woods: 0 (0%) — 16 (64%)

Perhaps more comfortable with his coverage skills, the Lions decided to rely on Jalen Reeves-Maybin far more than rookie Derrick Barnes on Sunday. This is the first time we’ve seen them seriously scale back Barnes’ snaps ever since the team decided to move on from Jamie Collins Sr.

A farewell to Alex Anzalone’s iron man streak, which lasted 6.5 games. He missed four snaps on Sunday due to an injury—his first missed snaps of the season—but he quickly returned.

Cornerbacks

Amani Oruwariye: 65 (100%) — 4 (16%)
Jerry Jacobs: 65 (100%) — 4 (16%)
AJ Parker: 48 (74%) — 3 (12%)
Daryl Worley: 17 (26%) — 1 (4%)
Bobby Price: 0 (0%) — 11 (44%)

The Lions were basically in nickel or dime the entire game defensively (hence the lower participation rates for the defensive linemen). That meant they had three cornerbacks in the game on literally every snap of the game. Unfortunately, Parker was injured late and Worley had to step in. That change in personnel did not go well.

And while Anzalone’s iron man streak ended this week, Oruwariye’s continues. He has yet to miss a defensive snap this season.

Safety

Will Harris: 65 (100%) — 10 (41%)
Tracy Walker: 63 (97%) — 10 (40%)
C.J. Moore: 0 (%) — 16 (64%)
Jalen Elliott: 0 (0%) — 16 (64%)

Finally, it looks like the Lions are operating with just two safeties again. Dean Marlowe was a surprise inactive this week, and the Lions basically replaced him with nobody. It was the Walker and Harris show on Sunday.

That being said, Jalen Elliott made his NFL debut, but solely on special teams.

Special teams

Austin Seibert: 11 (44%)
Jack Fox: 8 (38%)
Scott Daly: 8 (32%)

Have a day, special teams.