It’s easy to forget just how many players the Detroit Lions parted ways with this offseason. Even though the team finished the 2022 season extremely strong, general manager Brad Holmes did not use the 2023 offseason to sit on his hands and expect everything to just pick up where it left off. No, he attempted to upgrade at many positions, and that meant letting a fair amount of players who played big roles in 2022 find a new home.
Sunday was the first opportunity to see some of those old faces in new places, but it wasn’t much of a Week 1 debut for most of those players.
Let’s take a look at some of those performances.
Note: These are only players who were not brought back in 2023. For example, T.J. Hockenson was not included because we’ve already seen him in a Vikings uniform (he had eight catches for 35 if you want to know so bad).
RB D’Andre Swift — Eagles
Stats: 1 carry, 3 yards; 1 catch, 0 yards
Swift played in just 19 snaps on offense for the Eagles, as Philly relied heavily upon Kenneth Gainwell (41 snaps) and sprinkled some Boston Scott (8 snaps) in, too. Gainwell wasn’t overly successful either, rushing for 54 yards on 14 carries (3.9 YPC) and catching four passes for 20 yards. The Eagles, who were one of the best rushing teams in 2022, managed just 97 yards on 25 carries, so Philly may lean on Swift next week to bounce back.
RB Jamaal Williams — Saints
Stats: 18 carries, 45 yards (2.5 YPC); 2 catches, 7 yards
The Saints came away with the win with Williams as their lead back, but they couldn’t get much of anything going on the ground. Williams actually iced the game with his longest run of the day—an 11-yard run, but he fumbled the ball on the play. Luckily he was able to recover it, too:
With Kendre Miller injured and Alvin Kamara currently suspended, Williams is basically serving as the workhorse back in New Orleans. He played in 49 of 65 offensive snaps on Sunday.
WR DJ Chark — Panthers
Stats: Did Not Play (injury)
Chark suffered a hamstring injury in the preseason and did not play in Week 1. He did return to practice late in the week, so his absence may not last too much longer. However, Chark has struggled to stay on the field with injuries in the past, so this isn’t a great start to his Panthers career.
C Evan Brown — Seahawks
Brown got the start for the Seahawks, and while it was a hugely disappointing game for Seattle—a 30-13 loss to the Rams—they did find some success on the ground. They ran for 85 yards on just 18 carries.
LB Josh Woods — Cardinals
Stats: 2 tackles, 1 pass defended
Woods played in over 50 percent of defensive snaps for the Cardinals and got the second official start of his NFL career. His 39 snaps on Sunday were more than he got all season with the Lions defense last year. Surprisingly, he played just six special teams snaps, which was his primary role in Detroit.
LB Chris Board — Patriots
Board did not play on defense, but he was a four-phase special teamer for New England—playing on a whopping 27 special teams snaps (93%). He did not tally a statistic against the Eagles.
CB Amani Oruwariye — Giants
Oruwariye did not make the Giants’ 53-man roster, but is on the practice squad. He was not called up for Sunday night’s disaster of a game against the Cowboys.
CB Mike Hughes — Falcons
Hughes was a surprising inactive for Atlanta. He missed some time late in camp with an injury, but he was not listed on the injury report this week.
CB Jeff Okudah — Falcons
Okudah suffered an ankle injury early in training camp, but the fact that he avoided injured reserve suggests he won’t miss too much time, and the Falcons even said he’s “getting close” this week.
CB Starling Thomas — Cardinals
If you were wondering about the UFDA who got away, Thomas was a Week 1 healthy scratch for the Cardinals.
S DeShon Elliott — Dolphins
Stats: 13 tackles
It wasn’t exactly a defensive showcase between the Dolphins and Chargers, but Elliott was a force in run defense with 13 tackles, as he was in Detroit. The problem: Los Angeles rushed for 234 yards on 40 carries.
Additionally, he was the player in man-coverage on Justin Herbert’s only touchdown pass of the game.
Still, he’s an important part to that defense, as he logged all 81(!!!) defensive snaps for the Dolphins.