Week 7 of the regular season is now officially in the books and the Detroit Lions are still looking for their first victory of 2021 after falling to the Los Angeles Rams 28-19. Despite the loss, the Lions again saw improvement from much of their young core. Let’s take a closer look at how the rookies played against the Rams.
Penei Sewell, LT
69 offensive snaps (100%) — 5 special teams snaps (20%)
Sewell once again got the start at left tackle and made the most of his opportunity to face off against one of the league’s best. On one snap, Sewell got the better of all pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and refused to back down when the play ended. Personally, I love when offensive linemen have a nasty streak to them.
Penei Sewell vs Aaron Donald— PFF (@PFF) October 24, 2021
Per PFF, he was the Lions highest graded offensive player with a score of 81.1.
Sewell continues to flash in the running game, using his elite athletic traits to clear lanes for running backs D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. There are still things to iron out with his pass sets, particularly against quicker pass rushers. But that looks to be improving on a weekly basis.
Sewell still has some things to clean up with his set points & hands on an island (Lewis got him with a filthy cross-chop), but he is consistently showing a lot of what made him a special prospect & did again in Week 7. pic.twitter.com/EF94VIjqAG— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 25, 2021
Levi Onwuzurike, DL
22 (34%) — 4 (16%)
Onwuzurike seems to be making more of his opportunities as of late, registering two stops on Sunday against the Rams.
Still, the Lions need more from him and the rest of the defensive line room. Some interior pressure from Onwuzurike would go a long way in helping the defense force more punts and turnovers.
Alim McNeill, NT
A slight dip in McNeill’s snap count this week ,and I would chalk that up to the lack of success the Rams had in running the ball (just 47 yards on 19 attempts). While he has flashed a few times this season, it feels like we are still waiting on that disruptive level of play we saw in training camp.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR
43 (62%) — 6 (24%)
To be blunt, this wide receiver unit continues to be the biggest weakness on the roster. And even though he played 43 offensive snaps, St. Brown wasn’t targeted in the passing game once. Some of this can likely be attributed to the lack of confidence quarterback Jared Goff has in this group, but at some point offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn has to find ways to get players like St. Brown involved.
If we are looking for a positive here, he did have a nice downfield block on D’Andre Swift’s long touchdown reception early in the first quarter.
Derrick Barnes, LB
20 (31%) — 4 (16%)
Some change here from the last few weeks, with Jalen Reeves-Maybin getting the lion’s share of snaps alongside every down veteran Alex Anzalone. While Barnes is already good in pursuit and has been a reliable tackler, he has struggled in pass coverage most of the year. Will he continue to see a reduction in snaps against pass heavy teams for the rest of the year?
AJ Parker, NB
48 (74%) — 3 (12%)
One of two UDFA rookies starting on defense, Parker continues to compete valiantly every week, despite taking his lumps. He, along with every other member of the Lions defense, had their rough moments against Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Unfortunately for Parker and the Lions, it looks like he could be out of the lineup for a little while after exiting Sunday’s game, making life even more difficult for this battered and bruised secondary.
Jerry Jacobs, CB
65 (100%) — 4 (16%)
Despite a very questionable defensive pass interference penalty and frequently being targeted by Stafford, Jacobs more or less held his own again on Sunday in Los Angeles. He is a willing run defender and doesn’t seem to dwell or sulk when he does get beaten. With the loss of starting nickel corner AJ Parker, Jacobs is quickly becoming a player the Lions cannot afford to lose.
Other rookies of note: RB Jermar Jefferson was inactive after making his regular season debut last week. CB Ifeatu Melifonwu remains on injured reserve with a thigh injury, and CB Mark Gilbert was also inactive.