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Detroit Lions Week 16 snap count observations: Jalen Reeves-Maybin steps up again

Taking a look at the Lions snap counts from their 20-16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a closer look at the Detroit Lions Week 16 snap counts from their 20-16 mildly tolerable loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Offense

Quarterbacks

Tim Boyle: 67 (100%)

With starting quarterback Jared Goff on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Lions turned to Boyle to start his second game this season. Unlike his first start in Pittsburgh, Boyle was more composed and confident, right up until the final offensive play.

Running backs

Jamaal Williams: 28 (42%)
Craig Reynolds: 27 (40%) — 10 special teams snaps (43%)
Godwin Igwebuike: 10 (15%) — 15 (65%)
Jason Cabinda: 7 (10%) — 5 (22%)

D’Andre Swift and Williams have split carries all season, but with both unavailable the last two weeks, Reynolds had stepped up and dominated carries. With Swift still unavailable, the Lions turned to Williams and Reynolds to split the load this week. Touches were also close to even, with Williams getting 19 carries, while Reynolds got 11 with four additional targets in the passing game.

Igwebuike saw time on offense but, as has become typical with the RB3, he didn’t see any opportunities beyond special teams.

Cabinda suffered a knee injury after only seven offensive snaps and his absence significantly impacted the Lions’ offensive play calling.

“Losing Cabinda hurt us today,” coach Dan Campbell said in his post-game press conference. “There’s a number of things we had up and just our base game plan, run action, all those things. He’s kind of one of those unsung heroes and he does so many things for us. His versatility sometimes goes unnoticed, and man, it hurt.”

Campbell also didn't seem too optimistic about Cabinda’s ability to rehab and recover quickly.

“I would say right now both of them probably don’t look very favorable for next week,” Campbell said about Cabinda and tight end Shane Zylstra.

Tight ends

Brock Wright: 49 (73%) — 8 (35%)
Shane Zylstra: 13 (19%) — 5 (22%)

Speaking of Zylstra, he also injured his knee, and his situation appeared to be more severe than Cabinda, as he required the trainer’s cart to leave the field. If Zylstra is indeed done for the season, the only other reserve tight end the Lions have on the roster is former Michigan Wolverine Nick Eubanks, who is currently on the practice squad.

The starter is, of course, still UDFA rookie Brock Wright, who saw his snaps increase significantly with the loss of Zylstra. He figures to take on an even larger role over the last two games of the season.

Wide receivers

Amon-Ra St. Brown: 59 (88%)
Kalif Raymond: 53 (79%)
Josh Reynolds: 46 (69%) — 2 (9%)
Tom Kennedy: 21 (31%) — 5 (22%)
KhaDarel Hodge: 8 (12%) — 8 (35%)

St. Brown continues to be the Lions' best offensive player, and his mistake-free football, quickly makes you forget he is a rookie. With Swift out and T.J. Hockenson on injured reserve, St. Brown is proving he is capable of being the team's top option.

While Reynolds saw the third-most snaps at receiver, he was targeted the second-most times with seven opportunities on the day. He was only able to turn those seven targets into two receptions though, which has brought up an unsurprising question: is he only productive when Goff is throwing him the ball?

Hodge only saw one target, and it came from Jack Fox on yet another fake punt conversion.

Offensive tackles

Taylor Decker: 67 (100%)
Penei Sewell: 67 (100%)
Will Holden: 14 (21%) — 4 (17%)

Holden took over the sixth-offensive lineman role while Matt Nelson was unavailable after landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Holden’s not as effective in the role as Nelson, but it wasn’t overly noticeable, as the running game produced.

Guards/centers

Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 67 (100%) — 4 (17%)
Jonah Jackson: 67 (100%) — 4 (17%)
Evan Brown: 67 (100%) — 4 (17%)
Tommy Kraemer: 0 (%) — 4 (17%)
Ryan McCollum: 0 (%) — 4 (17%)

Everything went as planned here.

Defense

EDGE:

Charles Harris: 46 (100%) — 4 (17%)
Austin Bryant: 33 (72%) — 4 (17%)
Jessie Lemonier: 18 (39%) — 9 (39%)
Rashod Berry: 7 (15%)

Harris continues to elevate his game, proving he is worthy of being a top priority for an offseason re-signing. Per FTN Data (courtesy of our buddy Brett Whitefield), Harris was credited with seven pressures, while PFF assigned him four but did give him an elite pass-rushing grade of 90.5 for the game.

The other side of the line continues to rotate players, but with Bryant now fully healthy, he has taken on a larger piece of the pie.

DT:

Nick Williams: 27 (59%)
Michael Brockers: 21 (46%)
Levi Onwuzurike: 21 (46%) — 4 (17%)
Alim McNeill: 19 (41%)
John Penisini: 10 (22%) — 6 (26%)

Brockers was injured and left the game for a bit which created an opportunity for rookie Onwuzurike to increase his snaps and get level with the veteran. Beyond that, not much was different than expected, as this group has fallen into a rhythm.

Linebackers

Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 46 (100%) — 7 (30%)
Anthony Pittman: 24 (52%) — 19 (83%)
Derrick Barnes: 14 (30%) — 6 (26%)
Tavante Beckett: 0 (0%) — 11 (48%)
Curtis Bolton: 0 (0%) — 10 (43%)

Beyond Harris, there may not be another player on this roster who has taken advantage of his opportunity than Reeves-Maybin. Another candidate for an offseason priority re-signing, Campbell continues to gush over Reeves-Maybin in post-game press conferences. Here’s what Campbell said this week about Reeves-Maybin’s late-game forced fumble:

“Once again Reeves freaking comes up with a big one like he’s done all year.”

The surprising story among the linebackers is despite a prime opportunity for Barnes to jump into the starting lineup, he ends up being out-snapped by another reserve. This week, it was Pittman who kept him on the sidelines. Further complicating the decision to keep Barnes on the bench is that he opened the game with his first career sack on the game's opening play. It appears the Lions are either still concerned with Barnes’ snap counts or he just hasn’t earned their trust.

Meanwhile, Pittman had a solid day, proving he was deserving of the extra time in the field, recording five tackles (second-most on the team) and a pass deflection.

Cornerbacks

Will Harris: 46 (100%) — 5 (22%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu: 46 (100%) — 2 (9%)
AJ Parker: 24 (52%)
Bobby Price: 6 (13%) — 14 (61%)
Mark Gilbert: 2 (4%) — 2 (9%)
Saivion Smith: 0 (0%) — 4 (17%)

After a terrific debut at corner last week, Harris came back down to earth this week, allowing five receptions on the six targets thrown towards his man in coverage. With Amani Oruwariye on injured reserve, unless Price or Gilbert step up, Harris will likely stay at outside corner the remainder of the season.

Melifonwu allowed his man in coverage to catch both passes thrown in his direction, but he was solid in run defense. It was a decent game for the rookie. He should hopefully benefit from the experience he will gain by starting these last two games.

Safety

Tracy Walker: 46 (100%) — 5 (22%)
Dean Marlowe: 46 (100%)
C.J. Moore: 4 (9%) — 19 (83%)
Brady Breeze: 0 (0%) — 16 (70%)

With Harris at corner, Marlowe started another game at safety and is proving why it’s valuable to have reliable veterans on the roster.

Moore only saw the field a handful of times in three safety sets but continues to prove his value on special teams.

Special teams

Jack Fox: 12 (52%)
Scott Daly: 7 (30%)
Riley Patterson: 4 (17%)

Let’s end on a positive note.

“He’s been studying a lot,” Campbell said of punter Jack Fox. “He really has, it’s one of those things we’re very confident in it because of his ability to throw it. And it was a good job by Hodge. Man, was that was a good route.”

Fun times.