Lions notebook: Anthony Lynn rues not riding ‘hot hand’ Jamaal Williams more in loss

Detroit News

Allen Park — All last week, the Detroit Lions openly talked about the desire to get running back D’Andre Swift more touches. But even though he played a season-high 73% of the team’s offensive snaps against Chicago on Sunday, his 14 looks (carries plus targets in the passing game), fell well short of his previous season-high of 22, and even checked in under the 21 he had in 17 fewer snaps the previous week.

Part of Swift’s depressed usage despite intending to get him the ball more was his overall ineffectiveness against the Bears. He averaged just 2.0 yards on his eight carries, with a long of six yards, while netting four receptions for 33 yards on six targets in the passing game.

Swift proved far less effective than teammate Jamaal Williams in the contest. The starter for the fourth consecutive game, Williams gained 66 yards on 14 carries. Reviewing the film after the contest, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn believes he didn’t do a good enough job riding the hot hand in the loss.

“I’m all about riding the hot hand, and Jamaal ran really well last week,” Lynn said. “I probably should have used him more, to be honest with you. I’ve been looking at the tape the next day, like ‘That man ran his tail off.”

One of the main issues that’s prevented the Lions from sticking with Williams late in games is they’ve trailed by double digits in the second half each week. While he’s a capable pass-catching option out of the backfield, he doesn’t offer nearly as much potential as Swift does in those situations.

“At the end of the game, third quarter, fourth quarter, those are the golden quarters, especially for running the ball because the defense is tired,” Williams said. “It’s all just about imposing your will. I just want to impose my will, if you catch my drift.”

Special contributor

Linebacker Anthony Pittman has not seen a defensive snap this season, but his 89 special-teams reps are more than 20 ahead of any teammate. He’s quickly developed into someone coordinator Dave Fipp feels he can trust.

“He’s done great,” Fipp said. “He’s definitely a four-core player for us. I feel like he’s done a good job. He’s a young player and he’s got a bunch of talent. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s smart, makes good decisions on the field. He’s a good blocker. He’s good in coverage. He’s got a good overall skill set.”

Detroit’s coverage units have been solid this year, led by a strong returning core of players, including Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Jason Cabinda. But Fipp sees Pittman as having the potential to develop into one of the league’s better special-teams players.

“I think his ceiling’s really high and I’m really excited about watching him develop throughout the course of the year,” Fipp said. “I think he can be a guy that can be a really good player for a really long time. I do think on special teams, just in talking to some of the better players that I’ve ever been around. One guy told me, ‘Yeah, it wasn’t really until my third or fourth year that I felt like, oh, I really got this wired.’ So I think with all these guys, there’s some time on task that will help them all out but it’s definitely fun to watch them improve.”

You remind me

When he’s working with young players, it helps first-year defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn to compare their skill sets to someone he’s worked with in the past, either as a player or coach.

The first time Glenn got a look at undrafted rookie Jerry Jacobs, the coach couldn’t help but think of a versatile defensive back he helped develop into a key contributor while serving as the defensive backs coach for the New Orleans Saints.

“When I looked at Jerry, body type-wise, he reminded me of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, a guy that I drafted in the fourth round in New Orleans,” Glenn said. “The body type, so he’s around 205 (pounds) and Chauncey’s around 210, same height, but ultra-competitive.

“At that point, I started to look at that, ‘OK, so let me see how this guy plays.’ I saw the same fight, the dog mentality, in training camp that you see from Chauncey,” Glenn continued. “I don’t want to say this guy is Chauncey, but there’s a chance he can be trained and developed to be a nickel or outside corner in our system to be able to operate like that.”

Glenn confirmed Jacobs is in line for more playing time this Sunday against Minnesota after being used sparingly the first four games. He’s expected to split time with Bobby Price, the converted safety who struggled last week against the Bears.

But despite those struggles, which got him benched in the second half, Glenn is remaining patient with Price.

“You see length, you see speed, you see mentality,” Glenn said. “Every corner, man, once you get beat, every corner has in the back of their mind, ‘God, I don’t want to get beat again.’  The thing about Bobby, he keeps coming back. He keeps coming back. He came in as a safety, so he’s still a baby as far as learning to play corner. You know you’ve gotta deal with the struggles.

“…We gotta make sure with that player, keep showing him the good things he’s done and keep trying to build on those good things,” Glenn said. “And, man, you’ve gotta block out all the noise. That’s what it is, playing the corner position. I told you guys this maybe two weeks ago, he’s going to have some ups and downs. He had his downs. That’s just how it is, in the corner world.”

Glenn also had a comparison for Price, the coordinator’s former teammate with the Jets and Houston Texans, Marcus Coleman.

“Long, fast, has the ability to dominate,” Glenn said. “You saw some reps in that game, when he gets his hands on you, it’s over. It’s over. We just gotta continue to show him that, man. This is what you can do. Yeah, they made some plays on you, but this is who you are and this is what you can do. We’re going to make sure we build on that.”

Coleman, a fifth-round pick for the Jets in 1996, played 11 seasons with New York, Houston and Dallas. He appeared in 152 games, making 101 starts. He defended 99 passes during his career, including 25 interceptions.

Flowers nearing return

The Lions are hopeful to get outside linebacker Trey Flowers back on the field against the Vikings. He practiced, in a limited capacity for the second consecutive day after missing the previous two games with a knee injury.

It’s been a rough stretch for Flowers, who also missed the final nine games last season after suffering a broken arm.

“It’s tough,” Flowers said. “I take pride in just playing the game, take pride in my body being prepared for all the compact hits and things. But that’s this game. Sometimes you have good times and then sometimes you gotta see the ugly side of it. But I’ve been trying to stay positive. I understand that I’m blessed that I’m still able to play the game, so I’m just taking advantage of the opportunity just to be out there and help the team.”

The team could desperately use Flowers’ leadership and skill set following a season-ending Achilles injury to Romeo Okwara last week.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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