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Lions Week 1 snap counts observations: Aidan Hutchinson, Malcolm Rodriguez have big roles in NFL debut

The Lions wasted no time in throwing two rookie defenders to the wolves in Week 1 vs. the Eagles.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Let’s take a closer look at the Detroit Lions Week 1 snap counts from their 38-35 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.



Jared Goff: 69 (100% of offensive snaps)

Running backs

D’Andre Swift: 46 (67%)
Jamaal Williams: 23 (33%)
Justin Jackson: 0 (0%) — 20 special teams snaps (65%)
Craig Reynolds: 0 (0%) — 14 (45%)

The gap is starting to widen between the amount the Lions used Swift vs. Williams. While the carry count (15 to 11) was even, it’s clear the Lions now view Swift as their clear No. 1 back. There were times last year when the Lions featured Swift more heavily, but that was usually because of game situation. The Lions were able to stay fairly balanced on offense all of this game, and they wanted Swift out there.

The other two running backs were relegated to special teams duties. And for as much hand wringing as we did about the team’s kick returner, Justin Jackson—who was brought up from the practice squad—never even got an opportunity, as the Eagles booted every kickoff through the end zone.

Tight ends

T.J. Hockenson: 49 (63%)
Brock Wright: 23 (33%) — 12 (39%)
Shane Zylstra: 3 (4%) — 12 (39%)

Perhaps a little surprising to see the Lions use a second tight end so infrequently in this game, especially considering how well they ran the ball. Worth noting, four of Wright’s 23 snaps were at fullback—a role he’ll likely hold until Jason Cabinda returns from the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Wide receivers

Amon-Ra St. Brown: 61 (88%)
DJ Chark: 56 (81%)
Josh Reynolds: 55 (80%)
Kalif Raymond: 8 (12%) — 3 (10%)
Quintez Cephus: 2 (3%) — 8 (26%)

Not a lot of surprises amongst this group, but it is interesting to see the Lions go three-wide as often as they did. Also interesting to see Quintez Cephus take on a special teams role—something he hasn’t done since his rookie season. However, given that he’s WR5, he’ll have to contribute there to hold onto that roster spot.

Offensive tackles

Taylor Decker: 69 (100%)
Penei Sewell: 69 (100%)
Matt Nelson: 5 (7%) — 5 (16%)

The Lions utilized Nelson as a sixth offensive lineman, just as they did last year when both Decker and Sewell were healthy. That could explain why they were a little light on two tight end sets. This formation worked well last year and it’s off to a good start in 2022.


Logan Stenberg: 69 (100%) — 5 (16%)
Jonah Jackson: 69 (100%) — 5 (16%)
Frank Ragnow: 69 (100%)
Evan Brown: 0 (0%) — 5 (16%)
Drew Forbes: 0 (0%) — 5 (16%)

No surprise that Ragnow was not on special teams given his groin injury.



Aidan Hutchinson: 69 (90%) — 6 (19%)
Charles Harris: 64 (83%) — 6 (19%)
John Cominsky: 28 (36%) — 6 (19%)
Austin Bryant: 27 (35%) — 6 (19%)

No defensive lineman on either team played more than Hutchinson. Quite the workload for the first-round pick. Many will be disappointed by his box score performance (just one tackle), but he was pretty disruptive in the game.

Charles Harris wasn’t far behind in the snaps counts on the edge, as the Lions relied heavily on their two starters. One has to wonder if and when Julian Okwara and Josh Paschal are ready to go if there will be a more heavy rotation.


Alim McNeill: 52 (68%)
Isaiah Buggs: 40 (52%)
Michael Brockers: 28 (36%)
Benito Jones: 16 (21%)

You never want to overreact to one game, but Brockers playing only 28 snaps is certainly an eye-raiser. The Lions, instead, opted to utilize Buggs as their nose tackle and even give a big chunk of Brockers’ playing time to Benito Jones, who was added just last week. It certainly seems like Brockers’ time in Detroit is slowly slipping away. He’s signed through next season, but if the Lions aren’t going to utilize him much like this, there’s no shot he sees that $10 million base salary next year.


Alex Anzalone: 71 (92%) — 6 (19%)
Malcolm Rodriguez: 46 (60%) — 17 (55%)
Chris Board: 31 (40%) — 26 (84%)
Derrick Barnes: 22 (29%) — 9 (29%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 20 (65%)
Josh Woods: 0 (0%) — 20 (65%)

Malcolm Rodriguez not only got the official start, but he was clearly the Lions’ top option alongside Anzalone all game. But perhaps more interesting is the fact that Chris Board was above Derrick Barnes in the rotation.

The Lions showed a lot of three linebacker looks, clearly trying to slow the run game down, and as Rodriguez explained after the game, that was always going to involve a heavy rotation of players.

“We had a good rotation,” Rodriguez said. “Everyone did their part. Coming in, we knew that everyone was going to play a big role.”

Will this rotation continue throughout the year, or is this just an extension on the competition from training camp? Something to keep an eye out for.


Amani Oruwariye: 76 (99%)
Jeff Okudah: 67 (87%)
Mike Hughes: 52 (68%) — 3 (10%)
Will Harris: 7 (9%) — 26 (84%)
Bobby Price: 0 (0%) — 26 (84%)

The Lions were inconsistent in explaining why Jeff Okudah took off one series at the end of the first half. Coach Dan Campbell said it was a planned rest, as they were managing Okudah’s snap counts in his first game since his Achilles injury. But Okudah said he was dealing with cramps.

When Okudah was not in the game, he was not being tended to by trainers, but he was the last person to come out of the tunnel to start the second half, so it’s possible we was getting treatment then. Either way, Harris allowed a key gain in Okudah’s absence.


DeShon Elliott: 74 (96%) — 2 (6%)
Tracy Walker: 58 (75%) — 4 (13%)
JuJu Hughes: 19 (25%) — 15 (48%)
Kerby Joseph: 0 (0%) — 15 (48%)

Tracy Walker likely would have played every snap had it not been for his third-quarter ejection. Much like when Okudah went out, Walker’s replacement—JuJu Hughes—immediately gave up a big play.

Meanwhile, third-round rookie Kerby Joseph was strictly on special teams in his NFL debut. He committed a tough penalty on a punt return.

Special teams

Austin Seibert: 11 (35%)
Jack Fox: 9 (29%)
Scott Daly: 9 (29%)

Special teams are a thing, too.

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