Let’s take a look at the Lions' snap counts from their Week 5 game against the Panthers, and how it helped them move to 4-1 on the season.
Jared Goff: 57 (95%)
Teddy Bridgewater: 3 (5%)
For the first time all season, Jared Goff didn’t play every snap. With the Lions in the midst of a three-to-four score lead in the fourth quarter, Teddy “Human Victory Cigar” Bridgewater took over for the final three snaps of the game. Tough statline for Teddy: two rushes, -2 yards. Way to take those for the team.
David Montgomery: 45 (75%)
Craig Reynolds: 13 (22%) — 4 special teams snaps (15%)
Zonovan Knight: 2 (3%) — 11 (41%)
Jahmyr Gibbs: RULED OUT
With Gibbs out, the Lions relied on Montgomery the most they had all season. But when he finally needed some rest at the end of the game, Reynolds took over and thrived, rushing for 52 yards on just seven carries.
Unfortunately, Knight suffered what appeared to be a serious injury on his second offensive snap of the game. Having signed to the 53-man roster just a couple weeks ago, the Lions will likely have to go back to the well and find another back for depth.
Sam LaPorta: 52 (87%) — 2 (7%)
Brock Wright: 37 (62%) — 13 (48%)
Darrell Daniels: 15 (25%) — 21 (78%)
James Mitchell: RULED OUT
Everyone in this group saw a slight bump in playing time, as the Lions preferred going in heavier sets to help spark the run game. That strategy clearly worked, as the Lions racked up 159 rushing yards at 5.3 a carry (5.75 if you exclude the kneel downs).
Daniels continues to fill the fullback role for Jason Cabinda, who was moved to IR this weekend. But he also had five snaps inline, likely taking over Mitchell’s small offensive role.
Marvin Jones Jr.: 35 (58%)
Kalif Raymond: 29 (48%) — 5 (19%)
Jameson Williams: 28 (47%) — 2 (7%)
Josh Reynolds: 28 (47%)
Antoine Green: 11 (18%) — 6 (22%)
Dylan Drummond: 5 (8%) — 3 (11%)
Amon-Ra St. Brown: RULED OUT
Jameson Williams’ return was a bit bigger than expected. The second-year receiver played in nearly half the team’s offensive snaps. That role likely increased both due to the absence of St. Brown and because the game was quickly out of hand. It felt like Williams was in there for nearly every second-half snap.
It may be surprising to see Marvin Jones Jr. at the top of this list, as Josh Reynolds typically leads this group in snaps (behind St. Brown). However, Josh Reynolds has been battling a groin injury and the Lions likely weren’t trying to push it with the game in hand.
Elsewhere, Dylan Drummond made his NFL debut on Sunday and even got some late work on offense. Because he was a gameday elevation, he reverts back to the practice squad on Monday.
Taylor Decker: 60 (100%)
Frank Ragnow: 60 (100%)
Graham Glasgow: 60 (100%) — 6 (22%)
Penei Sewell: 60 (100%) — 6 (22%)
Jonah Jackson: 57 (95%) — 1 (4%)
Kayode Awosika: 3 (5%) — 6 (22%)
Colby Sorsdal: 0 (0%) — 6 (22%)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 0 (0%) — 6 (22%)
The big news here is that Jonah Jackson did not finish the game and was seen in the locker room in a walking boot. Let’s hope that is all precautionary because the Lions have already been dealt a frustrating amount of injuries on the offensive line again this year.
That said, Vaitai was healthy enough to be active in this game, but with Glasgow playing so well, Detroit opted not to force the issue with Big V, and just limited him to extra point duties.
Aidan Hutchinson: 61 (86%)
Romeo Okwara: 39 (55%) — 4 (15%)
Charles Harris: 37 (52%) — 4 (15%)
John Cominsky: 24 (34%) — 4 (15%)
Julian Okwara: 3 (4%) — 6 (22%)
Despite a nasty hit on his interception return, Hutchinson still managed to play 86 percent of the snaps against the Panthers, suggesting he’s okay even after getting up slowly.
Interesting to see Romeo Okwara getting more playing time over Charles Harris. It’s too early to tell whether that’s Romeo getting a promotion, or if that was simply due to game situation.
In his first game active, Julian Okwara was essentially just a special teamer, with his three defensive snaps in the game coming well after the game had been decided.
Alim McNeill: 51 (72%) — 4 (15%)
Benito Jones: 41 (58%) — 9 (33%)
Isaiah Buggs: 29 (41%)
Levi Onwuzurike: INACTIVE
Brodric Martin: INACTIVE
The Lions beefed up the defensive line, giving more snaps to each of their top three guys in a clear effort to make sure the Panthers didn’t run the ball up the gut. They were fairly successful in that endeavor, allowing just 99 rushing yards and 4.3 yards per carry.
That gameplan of stopping the run left no room for Levi Onwuzurike, who was a healthy scratch for the first time this year. It’s a tough break for the 2021 second-round pick, but things have been trending in this direction since the season opener. He only had 19 total defensive snaps in Weeks 3 and 4 combined.
Alex Anzalone: 69 (97%)
Derrick Barnes: 45 (63%)
Jack Campbell: 32 (45%) — 14 (52%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 0 (0%) — 21 (78%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 19 (70%)
Malcolm Rodriguez: 0 (0%) — 17 (63%)
Given the investment in the defensive tackles—and the Lions spending almost all of the game in nickel—Detroit went significantly lighter at linebacker this week, with everyone seeing a small downtick in percentage of snaps this week.
Most affected was Malcolm Rodriguez, who was purely on special teams for the first time in his NFL career. That speaks to the team’s depth and their growing confidence in Jack Campbell playing several roles on defense.
Cam Sutton: 70 (99%)
Jerry Jacobs: 68 (96%)
Will Harris: 68 (96%) — 6 (22%)
Emmanuel Moseley: 2 (3%)
Chase Lucas: 0 (0%) —21 (78%)
Steven Gilmore: DNP
Brian Branch: RULED OUT
Unsurprisingly, Will Harris took over the nickel role for the injured Brian Branch and almost never left the field. Unfortunately, Emmanuel Moseley’s much-anticipated debut lasted just two plays before he injured the opposite knee that he hurt last season. Let’s hope for the best with him, even though the outlook doesn’t look good.
Gilmore was not an inactive for Sunday, but he spent the entire day on the bench anyway.
Tracy Walker: 71 (100%) — 9 (33%)
Kerby Joseph: 71 (100%) — 13 (48%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu: 0 (0%) — 19 (70%)
The new starting duo at safety didn’t leave the field on Sunday. Curiously, though, both Walker and Joseph continue to play significant snaps on special teams. That seems likely to change once the Lions get some other secondary players back healthy, as that’s an unnecessary risk to a relatively thin safety group.
Jack Fox: 15 (56%)
Scott Daly: 8 (30%)
Riley Patterson: 6 (22%)
Jack Fox is still on kickoffs, while Riley Patterson was purely on extra point duty vs. the Panthers.