GREEN BAY, Wis. — Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions’ 42-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field and looks at three players who helped their stock and three who hurt their stock:
RB Kerryon Johnson: Written off after Adrian Peterson’s big debut last week, Johnson was the Lions’ most effective running back Sunday. He had eight carries for 32 yards and scored on a 1-yard run on the opening drive. Johnson didn’t get the ball much in the second half as the game script changed, but he showed Sunday he still can be a contributor on offense.
WR Kenny Golladay: Golladay missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury, but his importance to this offense has never been more evident than the past two weeks. The Lions are ordinary at the receiver position without Golladay, who is one of the most physical deep threats in the game. If I was Golladay’s agent, I’d show Bob Quinn tape of the Lions’ deep passing game last year, compare it to the last two weeks, then up my asking price on a new contract.
TE T.J. Hockenson: There were so few bright spots Sunday that I considered putting punter Jack Fox on this list. But Hockenson followed a solid opener with a team-high 62 yards receiving on four catches Sunday. He broke a couple of tackles, had 15 yards after contact on his first catch and looks like he’s developing into a nice intermediate weapon.
QB Matthew Stafford: Stafford threw a costly interception and took an uncharacteristically bad sack Sunday for the second straight game. As I wrote in my grades, the Lions have much bigger problems than Stafford, which is why they need their quarterback to play near-perfect football. At this rate, Stafford could be playing his final 14 games in Detroit. If this season doesn’t get on track real quick, the Lions may be looking at wholesale changes this offseason — at coach, general manager and quarterback.
OG Oday Aboushi: Good backup offensive linemen are hard to find, so Aboushi’s appearance on this list is about more than just his middling play, An eight-year veteran, Aboushi cannot commit the type of silly personal foul he was flagged for in the second quarter when he hit defensive end Tyler Lancaster low and late. That penalty left the Lions facing an unmanageable third-and-25 and opened the door for the Packers’ rally.
S Will Harris: Harris’ transgressions were even worse than Aboushi’s. The second-year safety committed back-to-back personal fouls late in the first half to set up Green Bay’s go-ahead touchdown. He hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the head on an incomplete pass down the sideline, then grabbed Davante Adams by the collar while making a tackle. He also took a poor angle on Aaron Jones’ 75-yard touchdown run. The Lions still have not given a good explanation why Harris is playing in two-safety sets over Tracy Walker.
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.