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Lions-Cowboys snap count observations: Josh Paschal has impactful NFL debut

The Detroit Lions young defense is starting to take over.

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Here’s a closer look at the Detroit Lions’ Week 7 snap counts against the Dallas Cowboys and what it may mean going forward.



Jared Goff: 59 (100% of offensive snaps)

Running backs

Jamaal Williams: 26 (44%)
Craig Reynolds: 20 (34%) — 15 special teams snaps (68%)
Justin Jackson: 12 (20%) — 15 (68%)

Williams and Reynolds continue to share the load in D’Andre Swift’s absence with a splash of Justin Jackson tossed in. That said, it’s still Williams who is dominating the touches. Williams had 15 carries as compared to four for Reynolds and just three for Jackson.

It’s worth noting, though, that Williams did not have another touch after his critical goal-line fumble.

Tight ends

T.J. Hockenson: 49 (83%)
Brock Wright: 31 (53%) — 7 (32%)
James Mitchell: 6 (10%) — 7 (32%)

Not many changes in the usage of Detroit’s tight ends in this game. At this point, you may have expected rookie James Mitchell to be a bigger part of the offensive game plan, but Brock Wright has been playing well as the TE2. Wright finished second on the team in receiving yards against the Cowboys with a career-high 57 yards.

Wide receivers

Kalif Raymond: 53 (90%) — 5 (23%)
Josh Reynolds: 47 (80%)
Tom Kennedy: 30 (51%)
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 10 (17%)
Maurice Alexander: 3 (5%) — 5 (23%)
Brandon Zylstra: 0 (0%) — 9 (41%)

The early injury to Amon-Ra St. Brown obviously had a big impact on the snap distribution here. Kalif Raymond was already in for a big role with DJ Chark out, but his 90 percent participation rate is the highest of his career. Tom Kennedy also saw a significant rise in playing time, but could only turn that into two catches for 14 yards.

Interestingly, Josh Reynolds actually saw his playing time dip a little bit this week, but that was likely due to a knee injury that held him out of two practices this week. He was also not very effective on the field, catching just a single pass on the day.

Offensive tackles

Taylor Decker: 59 (100%)
Penei Sewell: 59 (100%) — 2 (9%)
Dan Skipper: 8 (14%) — 2 (9%)

Despite Matt Nelson being out again, the Lions decided to use more six offensive linemen formations against the Cowboys after utilizing it just once against the Patriots. Dan Skipper filled into that role and struggled, giving up at least one pressure and blowing a block on Williams’ goal-line fumble.


Frank Ragnow: 59 (100%)
Jonah Jackson: 59 (100%)
Evan Brown: 59 (100%)
Logan Stenberg: 0 (0%) — 2 (9%)
Kayode Awosika: 0 (0%) — 2 (9%)

Look at that! The starting offensive line stayed healthy for an entire game! Progress!


The return of John Cominsky—but more notably the debut of rookie Josh Paschal—resulted in some major shakeups on the defensive line, while injuries forced more shifting in the secondary.


Aidan Hutchinson: 56 (89%) — 5 (23%)
Josh Paschal: 56 (89%) — 1 (5%)
Julian Okwara: 21 (33%) — 4 (18%)
John Cominsky: 10 (16%) — 4 (18%)
Austin Bryant: 9 (14%) — 4 (18%)

The Lions threw Paschal right into the fire, tallying 89 percent of defensive snaps, the same as fellow rookie Aidan Hutchinson. It has to be a good sign that one of the defensive line’s best performances of the year came with the team’s first and second-round picks dominating the playing time. Some much-needed hope for the future.

Paschal’s return affected Austin Bryant the most. Last game against the Patriots, Bryant played 78 percent of the snaps, but that number plummeted to 14 this week.

Meanwhile, John Cominsky didn’t play much in his return from a wrist injury. The Detroit News’ Justin Rogers provided some context on why:


Isaiah Buggs: 53 (84%) — 1 (5%)
Alim McNeill: 52 (83%) — 1 (5%)
Benito Jones: 21 (33%) — 4 (18%)

Buggs and McNeill continue to dominate the middle of the defensive line both in terms of play and snap counts.

However, the big news for this unit was the benching of Michael Brockers. Given that he was only accounting for a dozen snaps or so per game lately, the Lions simply just handed those to Benito Jones this week, who finished with two tackles on the day.


Alex Anzalone: 56 (89%) — 5 (23%)
Malcolm Rodriguez: 46 (73%) — 4 (18%)
Derrick Barnes: 18 (29%) — 12 (55%)
Anthony Pittman: 2 (3%) — 19 (86%)
Josh Woods: 2 (3%) — 15 (68%)
Chris Board: 0 (0%) — 15 (68%)

Quietly, Derrick Barnes has seen his playing time rise over the past three games. After being solely on special teams in Weeks 2 and 3, Barnes has had at least 23 percent of defensive snaps in each of the last three games.

Meanwhile, Chris Board appears to have been demoted to strictly a special teams role. He’s only played eight defensive snaps in the past three games. Is that because of a knee injury he’s battling or do the Lions simply prefer Barnes on the field? It’s unclear right now.


Amani Oruwariye: 63 (100%) — 1 (5%)
Jeff Okudah: 57 (90%) — 1 (5%)
AJ Parker: 43 (68%) — 7 (32%)
Jerry Jacobs: 1 (2%) — 7 (32%)
Chase Lucas: 0 (0%) — 14 (64%)
Mike Hughes: 0 (0%) — 3 (14%)

Did Amani Oruwariye win the starting job back after being benched last week, or was he only starting because Will Harris was out with an injury? We’ll likely find out next week, as Harris practiced all week, but was ultimately inactive with a hip injury.

Meanwhile, the usage of Jeff Okudah was the most fascinating part of Sunday’s game. Here’s a breakdown of his 57 defensive snaps, per PFF:

  • 39 at outside corner
  • 18 as a box safety/LB

That strategy proved to be very effective, as Okudah was a force in the run game with 15 tackles on the day.

Jerry Jacobs return from PUP was unceremonious. Though he played a big role on defense, he played just one defensive snap and drew a pass interference call on the play.

Meanwhile, AJ Parker held onto the starting nickel job for the second week in a row over Mike Hughes, who only played a brief role on special teams.


Kerby Joseph: 63 (100%) — 5 (23%)
DeShon Elliott: 48 (76%) — 8 (32%)
JuJu Hughes: 16 (25%) — 12 (55%)

With Detroit a little shorthanded at safety this week (no Ifeatu Melifonwu or Saivion Smith), the Lions just rolled with three. Interestingly, JuJu Hughes cut a little into DeShon Elliott’s playing time. Hughes hadn’t seen any playing time since the Vikings game.

Most importantly, rookie Kerby Joseph continues to get valuable playing time, and he’s playing well. Joseph forced a key fumble in the red zone and tallied Detroit’s only pass breakup of the day.

Special teams

Jack Fox: 8 (36%)
Scott Daly: 5 (23%)
Michael Badgley: 2 (9%)

Jack Fox continues to handle kickoff duties, while Michael Badgley finally saw the field this week and converted both of his kicks.

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