Dan Campbell: Detroit Lions to play most starters about a half vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Detroit Free Press

Jared Goff will not be able to talk his way into playing in Sunday’s preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but most of the rest of the Detroit Lions starters should see the field.

Lions coach Dan Campbell said Monday he told his starters “to be prepared (to play) a half” against the Steelers after sitting out last week’s win over the Indianapolis Colts.

“I know their guys are playing about a half, I talked to (Steelers coach Mike) Tomlin, so this’ll be really good for us,” Campbell said. “This’ll be really good. I have a lot of respect for coach Tomlin and what they do, and what they’ve done for years. One of the most consistent winning teams in this league for a number of years, certainly since he’s been there. So we know what they’re about. They’re a tough group and so this’ll be a great test for us.”

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The Lions are 1-1 this preseason, losing to the Atlanta Falcons in their exhibition opener and beating the Colts in a battle of backups after two days of joint practicelast week.

Campbell planned to hold Goff out of the Falcons game, but the Lions quarterback talked his way into playing after learning the starting offensive line was scheduled to play a series.

Campbell joked that Goff, who completed 3 of 4 passes for 47 yards and led a touchdown drive on his only possession of the preseason, will “know my conviction” about keeping him on the bench.

As for most of the rest of the team’s starters, Campbell hasn’t determined how many snaps they’ll play, but said it is important they do Sunday to prepare for the regular-season opener Sept. 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Last year, Campbell played Goff and other key starters about a quarter in the Lions’ preseason opener, then not again until the regular season.

Rookies Penei Sewell and Alim McNeill and defensive tackle Nick Williams were the only starters who played in the Lions’ third preseason game last summer, an approach Campbell said he regretted in retrospect.

“We tried a couple things last year, I did,” Campbell said. “I wanted to tinker a little bit and see if we could get it in practice and it’s good in theory but we had a number of injuries in camp and now you’re spread thin throughout the whole roster, and it just, it makes it harder. And so I just felt like this was the way to go this year. There again, they didn’t play last week. They got two good days against the Colts and so now we get a good week of work and we’ll go out there and go against those guys.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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