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Detroit Lions Week 11 rookie review: Bigger roles for several rookies

Examining how the Lions 2021 rookie class performed in Week 11

NFL: Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Untimely and avoidable penalties. Ultra-conservative play calling. An inability to get out of their own way.

Plenty of factors contributed to another frustrating day, and eventually led to the Detroit Lions losing 13-10 to the Cleveland Browns.

Let’s take a look at how the Lions 2021 rookie class performed against the Browns.

Penei Sewell, OL

Snap counts: 48 offensive snaps (100%) —2 special teams snaps (9%)

We are past the midpoint of the NFL season and seventh overall pick Penei Sewell is really hitting his stride as of late.

Those are some really impressive numbers, especially when you consider that Sewell played three of those five games at left tackle, before moving back to right tackle, once veteran Taylor Decker returned from injury.

Levi Onwuzurike, DL

Snap counts: 30 (41%) — 3 (14%)

Onwuzurike notched a single game high in snaps against the Browns, and was able to make a handful of plays, including a batted ball at the line of scrimmage and a blocked extra point.

Alim McNeill, DL

Snap counts: 33 (45%)

To counter Cleveland’s running game, the Lions opted to load up on interior defenders like rookie Alim McNeill, and to put it nicely, it did not work.

The Browns have one of the better interior offensive lines in football and Nick Chubb is one of - if not the best running back in football.

More trial by fire for this group of rookies.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR

Snap counts: 41 (85%) — 3 (14%)

Another career high in snaps for a Lions rookie, St. Brown finished the day with 18 yards on four catches.

Derrick Barnes, LB

Snap counts: 19 (26%) — 3 (14%)

Take it how you want, but it’s almost Thanksgiving and Barnes remains behind Jalen Reeves-Maybin on the depth chart. For whatever reason, this staff has elected to bring Barnes along slowly.

During his 19 snaps, he recorded two tackles, including a nice open field tackle on tight end David Njoku.

Jerry Jacobs, CB

Snap counts: 66 (89%) — 1 (5%)

At this point, I think you can start writing Jerry Jacobs’ name on the 2022 roster in pen. He just keeps competing and you can’t help but root for a player like that.

He isn’t perfect, but man, is he fun. Jacobs has a lot of juice, and he is going to bring it every single time he steps onto the field. He is consistently right in phase with his assignment and is gaining confidence with every play he makes.

Coming off a groin injury last week, he barely came off of the field and notched another pass break up.

During rough seasons like this, you need storylines like Jerry Jacobs’ ascension to follow along and keep you engaged on a weekly basis.

AJ Parker, NB

Snap counts: 35 (47%) — 2 (9%)

Parker missed some time against Cleveland due to an ankle injury, forcing the Lions to shuffle the deck a bit in the secondary.

While he was on the field, Parker registered two tackles, his first career interception, and a pass break up.

Mark Gilbert, CB

Snap counts: 0 (0%) — 5 (23%)

With Jerry Jacobs healthy, Gilbert was relegated to special teams duty.

Brock Wright, TE

Snap counts: 13 (27%) — 5 (23%)

Less two tight end formations meant less playing time for Wright, who finished the day with one catch for 12 yards.

Tommy Kraemer, OL

Snap counts: 33 (69%) — 2 (9%)

When Halapoulivaati Vaitai exited the game with an injury, another UDFA rookie was called upon to step in. All things considered, Kraemer held his own during his 33 snaps against Cleveland.

And with the Lions having a short week, we could potentially see Kraemer start against Chicago, depending on Vaitai’s availability.

Other rookies of note: CB Ifeatu Melifonwu remains out with a thigh injury. RB Jermar Jefferson was ruled out with an ankle/knee injury.