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Lions vs. Vikings snap counts: Turns out Detroit did rest some starters

A look at the Detroit Lions’ snap counts from their Week 18 game vs. the Vikings.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions are facing some criticism for playing starters against the Minnesota Vikings after rookie tight end Sam LaPorta suffered an injury and did not return. But after looking at the snap counts and talking to coach Dan Campbell, it appears Detroit did make some personnel decisions to rest or lower the playing time of key players.

Let’s take a closer look in our Week 18 snap counts.

Offense

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff: 57 (100%)
Teddy Bridgewater: N/A
Hendon Hooker: INACTIVE

Sadly, we never got to see Teddy Bridgewater go against his former team in what is expected to be the final regular season of his career.

Running backs

Jahmyr Gibbs: 29 (51%)
David Montgomery: 28 (49%)
Jason Cabinda (FB): 5 (9%) — 20 (71%)
Craig Reynolds: 2 (4%) — 13 special teams snaps (46%)

A near 50/50 split between Gibbs and Montgomery this week, which was enough to get Montgomery over 1,000 rushing yards this week, but not Gibbs.

In Cabinda’s return, he got a handful of fullback snaps, but was mostly a force on special teams, and got a shoutout from Dan Campbell on Monday morning for his strong play on that unit.

Tight ends

James Mitchell: 46 (81%) — 9 (32%)
Sam LaPorta: 23 (40%)
Brock Wright: RULED OUT, injured

After Sam LaPorta went down with an injury in the first half, Mitchell became the de facto starter at tight end. His 46 offensive snaps were a career high for the second-year tight end.

With an “outside chance” LaPorta returns this week and Brock Wright trending towards playing, it unlikely Mitchell sees as big of a role, but he did make a nice 24-yard grab on Sunday.

Wide receivers

Josh Reynolds: 50 (88%)
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 41 (72%)
Donovan Peoples-Jones: 21 (37%) — 4 (14%)
Kalif Raymond: 12 (21%) — 4 (14%)
Antoine Green: 10 (18%) — 8 (29%)
Jameson Williams: RULED OUT, injured

As Campbell alluded to in his post-game press conference, the Lions didn’t play St. Brown as much against the Vikings, in an effort to protect him from injury—particularly after he came up with clear discomfort in the second half. Unfortunately, as a result, Raymond suffered an injury that could hold him out of Sunday’s game against the Rams.

With Jameson Williams out with an ankle injury, both Peoples-Jones and Green saw a small uptick in playing time.

Offensive line

Taylor Decker: 57 (100%)
Jonah Jackson: 57 (100%)
Frank Ragnow: 57 (100%)
Graham Glasgow: 57 (100%) — 5 (18%)
Penei Sewell: 57 (100%) — 5 (18%)
Dan Skipper: 18 (32%) — 5 (18%)
Kayode Awosika: 0 (0%) — 5 (18%)
Colby Sorsdal: 0 (0%) — 5 (18%)

Dan Skipper, essentially the TE2 in this game, played 18 snaps as a jumbo tight end, much to the glee of the Ford Field crowd who cheered him every time he reported as eligible.

Defense

EDGE:

Aidan Hutchinson: 67 (92%)
Josh Paschal: 60 (82%) — 4 (14%)
Romeo Okwara: 34 (47%) — 4 (14%)
Julian Okwara: 11 (15%) — 4 (14%)
Charles Harris: INACTIVES
John Cominsky: INACTIVE

Paschal saw a huge jump in playing time, and Campbell revealed why during his Monday press conference. The Lions chose to make Cominsky inactive this game to give the veteran edge defender some rest.

“he’s got some hard miles on him through this season, all the dirty work he does,” Campbell said. “And so, we just felt like the right thing to do was just give him a blow here.”

Well, lookie there. The Lions rested a starter. Hopefully this ends the debate (it won’t).

DT:

Tyson Alualu: 33 (45%)
Alim McNeill: 30 (41%) — 2 (7%)
Levi Onwuzurike: 25 (34%) — 2 (7%)
Benito Jones: 21 (29%) — 9 (32%)
Brodric Martin: INACTIVE

Alim McNeill got a good load in his first game in a month and made the most of his playing time, logging a tackle and a big QB hit. Levi Onwuzurike also saw a big jump in playing time and it resulted in his first sack of the season.

Benito Jones is another starter where it looks like the Lions limited his workload compared to other weeks. Prior to this game, Jones had logged at least 30 snaps in five straight games. His 21 snaps was the lowest output from him since Week 4.

Linebackers

Alex Anzalone: 73 (100%)
Derrick Barnes: 54 (74%) — 6 (21%)
Jack Campbell: 41 (56%) — 13 (46%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 17 (23%) — 23 (82%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 23 (82%)
Malcolm Rodriguez: 0 (0%) — 19 (68%)

Not many changes to the linebacker rotation this week. Jalen Reeves-Maybin saw a little more playing time, which makes sense considering the pass-heavy offense of the Vikings.

Cornerbacks

Cam Sutton: 73 (100%)
Kindle Vildor: 73 (98%)
Brian Branch: 41 (56%)
Will Harris: 4 (5%) — 23 (82%)
Jerry Jacobs: 0 (0%) — 19 (68%)
Khalil Dorsey: 0 (0%) — 19 (68%)
Steven Gilmore: INACTIVE

Will Harris filled in temporarily while Brian Branch was dealing with a wrist injury. Branch returned and there appears to be little-to-no concern about his availability this week.

Safety

C.J. Gardner-Johnson: 52 (71%)
Kerby Joseph: 49 (67%) — 5 (21%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu: 45 (62%) — 4 (14%)
Tracy Walker: 0 (0%) — 14 (54%)

The Lions successfully ran a safety rotation, giving all three players nearly an identical amount of playing time against the Vikings. It’s unclear how the Lions will approach the safety position moving forward, but Campbell said he liked how it played out on Sunday.

“I thought it went well,” Campbell said. “I thought all three of those guys worked well together, communicated well, and it was good to see (Gardner-Johnson) get one (interception).”

Special teams

Jack Fox: 16 (57%)
Jake McQuaide: 10 (36%)
Michael Badgley: 5 (18%)

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