On his weekly radio spot on local sports talk station 97.1 The Ticket, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell reiterated that they plan on making more personnel changes on defense to help fix the worst-ranked unit in the NFL.
“I think we’ve got to shake our roster up a little bit,” Campbell said. “I’m not going to tell you who that is going to be, but we’re talking about right now some trust issues. Just ‘are you going to be where you’re supposed to be? Can I trust you? Are you going to be there and make this call? So, a little trust, a little FBI (football intelligence), and a little bit of dog. I think we’re going to inject some of that in our defense, and I think that can go a long way for us.”
While he said that he wasn’t going to divulge any specifics about who will be moved in and out of the lineup, he did eventually let one slip. Defensive tackle Demetrius Taylor will get his first NFL action this week against the New England Patriots.
“We’re going to give Meech a go this week,” Campbell said Tuesday morning. “We’ll see if he can kinda help us out there a little bit.”
Taylor has been a healthy inactive for the Lions’ first four games of the season. In training camp, however, he showed some quick twitch and an ability to generate some interior pressure. That carried over into the preseason, where he earned the team’s ninth-highest PFF grade (71.3) over 67 defensive snaps.
Campbell also went into a little more detail on what is going wrong with their defense, pointing both to the defensive front and the secondary.
“There’s certainly some things that we certainly got to clean up on the front end and the back,” Campbell said. “We’re not getting enough pressure, and then we’re all out of sorts on the back end.”
Taylor could help bring some pressure on the front end, but the back end is a little more complicated. Detroit has had to cycle through several different players in the secondary due to injury, most notably the loss of captain Tracy Walker. But Detroit has also struggled with their starting cornerbacks. Amani Oruwariye is PFF’s lowest graded cornerback in the NFL and nickelback Mike Hughes is not much better, ranking 105 out of 110.
And while it’s hard to see other reinforcements on the Lions roster as significant upgrades, Campbell exuded confidence that Detroit has the right set of defenders in the building.
“I’m charged with making the most out of what we have available to us, and we’ve got plenty available to us,” Campbell said. “We’ve got good enough players in that room. I really believe that.”
Some candidates to get more playing time in the secondary include Will Harris, Bobby Price, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Chase Lucas, and AJ Parker.
Detroit could also be getting the services of two injured players back: rookie defensive lineman Josh Paschal and cornerback Jerry Jacobs, both of whom are expected to return to practice. However, both remain on injury reserve lists and are not likely to be activated before the team’s Week 6 bye.
In the case of Paschal, who has been out since Organized Team Activities, it sounds like the coaching staff wants to give him time to get acclimated.
“We’re probably going to start his clock this week. Now, it’ll be two or three weeks before he could be ready to play, but that’ll certainly help,” Campbell said.