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Detroit Lions Week 4 snap count observations: Detroit shakes up defensive lineup in search for answers

The Lions are searching for something, anything to work on defense.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a closer look at the Detroit Lions’ Week 4 snap count in their 24-14 loss to the Chicago Bears.



Jared Goff: 71 (100%)

Running backs

D’Andre Swift: 52 (73%)
Jamaal Williams: 21 (30%)
Jason Cabinda: 11 (15%) — 15 special teams snaps (71%)
Godwin Igwebuike: 0 (0%) — 15 (71%)

Once again, this game got out of hand for the Lions, and they were forced to abandon the run game in the second half. Despite Jamaal Williams’ efficient play in the first two quarters, he barely played in the second half, leading D’Andre Swift to heavily out-snap him overall. Detroit ran the ball just four times in the entire second half.

Tight ends

T.J. Hockenson: 58 (82%)
Darren Fells: 19 (27%) — 2 (10%)

Nothing too surprising here. This is about the average use for both Hockenson and Fell this season. Perhaps a little low for Fells, but, again, when you’re down 21 points, you don’t have a huge need for a run-blocking tight end.

Wide receivers

Quintez Cephus: 62 (87%)
Kalif Raymond: 53 (75%) — 4 (19%)
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 51 (72%) — 5 (24%)
Trinity Benson: 20 (28%)
KhaDarel Hodge: 8 (11%) — 14 (67%)

This is the second time this year that Cephus has led the receivers in playing time, and it resulted in the best game of his NFL career: four catches, 83 yards.

Perhaps even more notable is Amon-Ra St. Brown’s significant increase in snaps. This was the highest percentage he has played thus far, and he, too, took advantage of the extra playing time. Six catches and 70 yards are both career highs for the rookie receiver.

Offensive tackles

Matt Nelson: 71 (100%) — 2 (10%)
Penei Sewell: 71 (100%) — 2 (10%)
Will Holden: 0 (0%) — 2 (10%)

No third offensive tackle used in Sunday’s game after Will Holden had a handful of snaps last week.


Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 71 (100%) — 2 (10%)
Jonah Jackson: 71 (100%) — 2 (10%)
Evan Brown: 60 (85%) — 2 (10%)
Frank Ragnow: 11 (15%)
Logan Stenberg: 0 (0%) — 2 (10%)

With Frank Ragnow’s early injury, Evan Brown got the most playing time in his career. Prior to Sunday’s game, he had played a total of 82 snaps on offense. He nearly doubled that in one game, and based on Dan Campbell’s comments after the game, it sounds like he’ll have to step in for Ragnow for at least a game or two.



Charles Harris: 52 (90%) — 4 (19%)
Austin Bryant: 43 (74%) — 5 (24%)
Romeo Okwara: 14 (24%) — 1 (5%)
Julian Okwara: 12 (21%) — 8 (38%)

Very telling that when Romeo Okwara went down with a probable Achilles injury, it was Austin Bryant the team turned to. Detroit must still be concerned with Julian Okwara’s run defense struggles and inability to set the edge. Bryant did record four tackles and one for loss in the game. However, in just 12 snaps, Julian Okwara notched three tackles and one for loss.

You have to wondering if Julian will eventually garner more snaps, especially since it appears Romeo will be out long term.

Defensive tackle

Michael Brockers: 46 (79%)
Nick Williams: 40 (69%)
Alim McNeill: 21 (36%) — 4 (19%)
Levi Onwuzurike: 17 (29%) — 4 (19%)
John Penisini: 13 (22%) — 4 (19%)

Unsurprisingly, the Lions went a little bulkier this week, playing one of their nose tackles on 60 percent of the downs (as opposed to 36 percent last week). Meanwhile, Brockers and Williams continue to be the clear starters on the interior. As a result, Levi Onwuzurike continues to only get a modest amount of snaps.


Alex Anzalone: 58 (100%) — 4 (19%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 38 (66%) — 3 (14%)
Derrick Barnes: 18 (31%) — 5 (24%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 19 (90%)
Josh Woods: 0 (0%) — 15 (71%)

While last week was about a 50/50 split between Reeves-Maybin and Derrick Barnes for the starting role opposite Anzalone, the veteran linebacker doubled the rookie’s playing time this week. It’s an interesting trade off, as Reeves-Maybin was also limited to just three special teams snaps, despite the fact that he may be the team’s best player on that unit.

Per PFF, Barnes played in just one coverage snap, so this could simply be a case where the Lions trust Reeves-Maybin’s coverage ability over Barnes right now.


Amani Oruwariye: 58 (100%) — 4 (19%)
AJ Parker: 38 (66%)
Bobby Price: 35 (60%) — 4 (19%)
Jerry Jacobs: 18 (31%) — 10 (48%)
Corey Ballentine: 0 (0%) — 12 (57%)

The Lions’ depletion of their cornerback room continued on Sunday, as Bobby Price was the latest Lions cornerback to go down with an injury. Price was a roster bubble safety two months ago, but after a laundry list of injuries and a position change to safety, he was the starter. With him going down in the second half, undrafted rookie Jerry Jacobs had to jump in to play. That meant at the end of this game the Lions were playing two undrafted rookie cornerbacks—Jacobs and Parker. Woof.


Will Harris: 43 (74%) — 7 (33%)
Tracy Walker: 35 (60%) — 7 (33%)
Daryl Worley: 20 (34%) — 4 (19%)
Dean Marlowe: 19 (33%) — 8 (38%)
C.J. Moore: 0 (0%) — 15 (71%)

The Lions tried some more shenanigans at the safety level in this game. Last week, it was Dean Marlowe splitting time as both a third safety and a replacement for both Harris and Walker. This week, Daryl Worley got in on the action, even though many believed he was a backup cornerback. After the game, Campbell explained this decision more:

“We like Worley. We brought him in. He did a couple things in practice for us. So we wanted to get some eyes on him, see where he was at. He’s a smart guy. He’s got a little versatility, corner, safety, nickel. And so, yeah, I mean, we’re just — we’re trying to find the best guys we can here that can help us. And also develop some of these young pups.”

The Lions obviously need to figure some things out on their back end, and it’s nice to see them try a few different things. At the same time, though, it does seem like a curious decision that Will Harris continues to get the most reps out of the group when it’s clear he’s continuing to make some of the same mistakes.

Special teams

Jack Fox: 5 (24%)
Scott Daly: 5 (24%)
Ryan Santoso: 5 (24%)

Special teamers matter, too.

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