Lions still feel Goff gives team best chance to win; team will work out kickers

Detroit News

Allen Park — As long as Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff continues to struggle, coach Dan Campbell will be asked to defend the decision to stick with his starter.

Coming off his least productive start of the season, and one of the worst of his career, Goff had just 54 passing yards at the end of regulation on Sunday, finishing 14-of-25 for 116 yards in the 16-16 tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

A run-heavy game plan built around inclement conditions and an oblique injury suffered late in the first quarter both impacted Goff. But that didn’t prohibit Campbell from having to once again answer why Goff remains the team’s starting quarterback.

“It’s hard to say that he shouldn’t be the guy right now,” Campbell said. “It’s hard to say that because, there again, every time we try to throw it in dropback just about, our protection breaks down. Until we can do things right around him — yeah, there are throws we want to see that he needs to make. There was a dart that we threw to (Kalif Raymond) … But ultimately, I still think right now he’s the guy that gives us the best chance.”

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With Goff laboring, and taking four sacks, the Lions had every opportunity to put backup David Blough into Sunday’s game. But after consulting with Goff, quarterback coach Mark Brunell and the team’s medical staff, the consensus opinion was Goff remained able to do what the team needed him to do.

“If I felt like there was no way that he can function then I would (pull him). But I didn’t feel that way yesterday,” Campbell said.

As for the long-term status of the oblique injury, Campbell noted Goff was undergoing further testing on Monday that would provide clarity, although there wasn’t any immediate concern about it being a long-term issue.

Kicker workout on deck

After backup kicker Ryan Santoso missed an extra point and a 48-yard field goal in overtime that would have given the Lions their first win of the season, Campbell acknowledged the team will explore alternative options this week.

“We’re going to bring some guys in, work ’em out and see who the best man for the job is,” Campbell said.

After reviewing the film of Santoso’s misses, the coach confirmed the operation — the snap and hold — was cleanly executed on both attempts.

Detroit lost its starting kicker, Austin Seibert, to a hip injury this week. He was placed on injured reserve over the weekend and will miss at least the next two games.

Reynolds to debut in Cleveland

The Lions opted not to play wide receiver Josh Reynolds against Pittsburgh after claiming him off waivers earlier in the week, but Campbell assured everyone the veteran receiver will be active next Sunday against the Browns.

“I wanted to make sure that when he’s up, he’s up, he has a chance to have some success and there is enough that he knows in the playbook before we just throw him to the wolves,” Campbell said.

Reynolds posted career-best numbers with the Rams last season, catching 52 passes for 618 yards. He signed with Tennessee as a free agent this offseason, but struggled to earn meaningful playing time after the team traded for Julio Jones.

Reynolds had just 10 catches for 90 yards in five games this season prior to asking for his release.

Rookies not in doghouse

With 10 extra minutes for the overtime period, the Lions ended up playing a season-high 87 defensive snaps against the Steelers. That meant bigger-than-normal workloads for many players, but not rookies Derrick Barnes and Alim McNeill.

Both players were on the field for 15 snaps (17.2%). For McNeill, that was a season-low percentage. It was also the lowest for Barnes since entering into a timeshare with Jalen Reeves-Maybin following the release of veteran Jamie Collins early in the season.

Those figures would seem to run counter to the franchise’s emphasis on developing its young talent, but Campbell insisted it had nothing to do with the players’ previous performance and was more about what the game flow dictated.

“I would just say it was more game plan and kind of where the game went,” Campbell said. “It wasn’t something like they don’t deserve to continue to play, it was just that’s where it went. Normally, you don’t see it working out that way, but it did yesterday.”

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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