Deciphering future of Detroit Lions RBs Adrian Peterson, D’Andre Swift, Kerryon Johnson

Detroit Free Press

Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions’ 27-23 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Ford Field, and looks at three players who helped their stock and three who hurt their stock:

Stock up

RB Adrian Peterson: He has been a Lion for eight days, but was far and away the team’s best running back. The future Hall-of-Famer ran for 93 yards on 14 carries and broke big runs of 19 and 21 yards. D’Andre Swift will be a factor in the backfield all season, but Peterson is 961 yards away from passing Barry Sanders for fourth place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

S Tracy Walker: Walker did not start, but was one of their two best players on defense. He had a team-high seven tackles, including two for loss, and nearly came away with a leaping interception on the goal line. Neither of Walker’s safety cohorts, Duron Harmon or Will Harris, played bad, but Walker absolutely should be in the starting lineup.

TE T.J. Hockenson: It wasn’t as gaudy as his NFL debut a year ago, but the Lions’ 2019 first-round pick had another big opener. He caught all five of the passes thrown his way for 56 yards, and used his big body to box out a Bears defender for a third-quarter touchdown. Kenny Golladay will be the Lions’ No. 1 receiver when he returns, but Hockenson is quickly working his way up the receiving pecking order.

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Stock down

RB D’Andre Swift: Swift is going to have plenty more good days than bad days in this league. He’s a talented running back who already looks like a mismatch in the passing game. But Sunday’s dropped touchdown with 6 seconds to play will haunt him and the Lions for a long time.

RB Kerryon Johnson: While Swift’s placement on this list is temporary, Johnson’s could be permanent. The Lions’ leading rusher each of the past two seasons, Johnson got the start but finished with 8 yards on three carries. With Peterson and Swift clearly ahead of him in the pecking order, Johnson doesn’t figure to be a major part of the offense this season.

Hamstrings: The Lions have been hit with a rash of September hamstring injuries, and they threaten to cost the team dearly this month. Golladay and rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah did not play because of hamstring injuries, and starting corners Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman left the game with hamstring injuries of their own. The Lions finished with Amani Oruwariye, Darryl Roberts and Tony McRae at cornerback, and they play quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Kyler Murray and Drew Brees the next three weeks.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content. 

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