Lions Week 5 snap counts observations: Rookies starting to take over

Pride of Detroit

Let’s take a closer look at the Detroit Lions’ Week 5 snap count in their 19-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Offense

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff: 68 (100%)

Running backs

D’Andre Swift: 50 (74%)
Jamaal Williams: 22 (32%)
Jason Cabinda: 12 (18%) — 17 special teams snaps (65%)
Godwin Igwebuike: 0 (0%) — 17 (65%)

Not many changes in running back usage for this game. Again, game situation likely tilted the scales heavily in Swift’s favor, but Williams continues to get the start, and he’s making the most out of his early opportunities.

Tight ends

T.J. Hockenson: 55 (81%)
Darren Fells: 21 (31%) — 3 (12%)
Shane Zylstra: 0 (0%) — 12 (46%)

Despite dealing with an injury, Hockenson was not limited at all on Sunday. He got his normal output of work, although his production has certainly hit a snag.

While Shane Zylstra was promoted as Hockenson insurance, he actually got plenty of playing time on special teams.

Wide receivers

Amon-Ra St. Brown: 47 (69%) — 5 (19%)
Kalif Raymond: 46 (68%) — 3 (12%)
KhaDarel Hodge: 44 (65%) — 9 (35%)
Quintez Cephus: 22 (32%)
Trinity Benson: 21 (31%)

Obviously, the injury to Quintez Cephus—who was emerging as this team’s No. 1 receiver—threw a wrench into plans this week. Interesting to see KhaDarel Hodge step up and take those reps over Trinity Benson, but if you saw the results on the field, the Lions were warranted in that decision.

Elsewhere, Amon-Ra St. Brown continues to see his playing time grow—and his production is increasing with it. However, Kalif Raymond was mostly a ghost in this one despite playing in over two-thirds of the game.

Offensive tackles

Matt Nelson: 68 (100%) — 3 (12%)
Penei Sewell: 68 (100%)
Will Holden: 0 (0%) — 3 (12%)

Penei Sewell played in every snap despite his ankle injury. However, they did take him off of special teams, which teams often do with a player still struggling with pain. No need to overwork him.

Guards/centers

Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 68 (100%) — 3 (12%)
Jonah Jackson: 68 (100%) — 3 (12%)
Evan Brown: 68 (100%)
Logan Stenberg: 0 (0%) — 3 (12%)
Ryan McCollum: 0 (0%) — 3 (12%)

Mildly interesting: the Lions took Evan Brown off special teams and utilized recently acquired Ryan McCollum in his spot. Perhaps Detroit didn’t want to overwhelm Brown in his first career start.

Defense

EDGE:

Trey Flowers: 52 (78%)
Charles Harris: 46 (69%) — 6 (23%)
Julian Okwara: 20 (30%) — 11 (42%)
Austin Bryant: 12 (18%) — 5 (19%)

Flowers did not appear to be limited with his knee injury, as he played more than any other defensive linemen. Perhaps more interestingly, Julian Okwara jumped Austin Bryant in snaps. Last week, Bryant played 78 percent of snaps, but he saw a huge decline on Sunday. Most of that was due to the return of Flowers, but it’s also clear Okwara is cutting into his time now, too.

Defensive tackle

Michael Brockers: 48 (72%) — 1 (4%)
Nick Williams: 45 (67%)
Alim McNeill: 24 (36%) — 4 (23%)
Levi Onwuzurike: 20 (30%) — 6 (23%)
John Penisini: 16 (24%) — 5 (19%)

These numbers are nearly identical to last week, so not much to talk about here. Rookie Levi Onwuzurike had a career-high 20 snaps on Sunday, but that’s not far off from his average thus far.

Linebackers

Alex Anzalone: 67 (100%) — 6 (23%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 41 (61%) — 4 (15%)
Derrick Barnes: 31 (46%) — 6 (23%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 22 (85%)
Josh Woods: 0 (0%) — 17 (65%)

Anzalone’s streak of playing every single snap this season continues (knock on wood). Meanwhile, rookie Derrick Barnes is starting to cut more and more into Jalen Reeves-Maybin’s playing time. There were also a handful of times in which the Lions kept all three on the field for some 4-3 looks.

Cornerbacks

Amani Oruwariye: 67 (100%) — 6 (23%)
Jerry Jacobs: 63 (94%) — 1 (4%)
AJ Parker: 36 (54%) — 9 (25%)
Bobby Price: 3 (4%) — 12 (46%)
Corey Ballentine: 0 (0%) — 11 (42%)

The Lions suggested that Jerry Jacobs and Bobby Price were going to split some time this week, but that’s not what ended up happening. Jacobs completely took over as the starter and hardly ever relinquished that position. To his credit, he fared pretty well for most of the game, allowing just two catches on three targets. Of course, those two catches came in key moments of the game.

So to recap from the Lions’ rookie class:

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown — leading Lions receivers in snaps
  • Penei Sewell — still 100 percent playing time
  • Levi Onwuzurike — career high in snaps
  • Derrick Barnes — career high in snaps
  • Jerry Jacobs — first career start

The rookie revolution is here.

Safety

Will Harris: 65 (97%) — 11 (42%)
Tracy Walker: 56 (84%) — 11 (42%)
Dean Marlowe: 23 (34%) — 6 (23%)
C.J. Moore: 2 (3%) — 17 (65%)

The Lions safety rotation all but disappeared this week. It’s unclear why Daryl Worley was scratched in this game after playing such a big part in the game plan last week.

As a result, the Lions ran with Will Harris and Tracy Walker for most of the game. They still had a fair amount of three-safety looks to get Dean Marlowe on the field, but Detroit looks like they’re closer to just two starting safeties again, and with the performance that Tracy Walker put together on Sunday, these numbers could be even higher next week.

Special teams

Austin Seibert: 8 (31%)
Jack Fox: 7 (27%)
Scott Daly: 7 (27%)

Special teamers matter, too.

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