Detroit Lions OC Ben Johnson: Jared Goff has had ‘great camp’

Detroit Free Press

Jared Goff’s preseason is done, and Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson likes where his quarterback is at heading into the regular season.

“I think he’s had a great camp,” Johnson said Friday. “He’s displaying a lot of confidence within this system right now and once again, we’re trying to tailor it to what he does best.”

The Lions held Goff out of his second straight practice Friday as they prepare for Sunday’s preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Starters on both teams are expected to play about a half in the game, but Lions coach Dan Campbell ruled out Goff on Monday, indicating he did not want to risk injury to his starting quarterback.

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Goff, acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams last January, has played well this summer after a rough start to his Lions career.

The Lions started 0-10-1 last season, and Goff committed 10 turnovers in the Lions’ first seven games. Johnson took on a more prominent role in the offense at midseason, after Campbell stripped coordinator Anthony Lynn of play-calling duties, and he and Goff worked together to reimagine the offense this offseason.

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Johnson instituted more of the bootleg and play-action passing game that Goff excelled at with the Rams, and the change seems to have benefitted Goff so far.

Goff completed 3 of 4 passes for 47 yards and led a touchdown drive on his only possession of the preseason, in the Lions’ exhibition-opening loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Goff did not play in last week’s preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts, when the Lions put up 27 points and amassed 174 yards rushing.

Johnson has kept his play-calling deliberately vanilla this summer, but he said Friday he’s seen enough from Goff and the rest of the offense to be excited about the unit’s possibilities.

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“They’ve been focused, they’ve been professional. They’ve been able to take adjustments that we throw on them at the last minute and apply them and make it work,” Johnson said. “So from that regard I think there’s a lot of promise in terms of where we could potentially push the envelope here on offense. And conceptually, I think the sky’s the limit there. We can do a lot of different things with the way these guys have embraced everything. So, not to divulge too much, but feel good about what we’ve put on tape so far from a fundamental standpoint up front being able to evaluate our guys that way, and then where it can go potentially once we get into the regular season.”

Cephus returns

Quintez Cephus is on track to make his preseason debut Sunday after missing the past two games with a leg injury,

“He’s healthy so he can go and play, that’s the biggest thing,” Lions receivers coach Antwaan Randle El said. “And when you’re not available it’s tough to evaluate, but he’s healthy and when he came back, practiced a little bit against Indy, didn’t feel his best but still looked pretty good and then these past couple days he’s been looking real good, so it’s going to be interesting to see how he responds in this game.”

Cephus caught 15 passes for 204 yards in five games last season before breaking his collar bone and missing the rest of the year.

He is vying with Trinity Benson and Tom Kennedy for one or two spots as the Lions’ fifth and/or sixth receivers.

Kennedy has excelled this preseason with team-highs of 13 catches, 128 yards and two touchdowns. Benson, one of the Lions’ fastest players, has five catches for 68 yards this preseason.

Randle El said his ideal backup receiver — Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark and Josh Reynolds will open the season as starters, and Kalif Raymond is the punt returner and likely No. 4 receiver — is a “guy that can go in and play several different spots.”

“Obviously, can contribute on special teams, but he come in and play that X, can he give me a blow at the F receiver, Z receiver and so on and so forth,” Randle El said. “If you have guys like that, it doesn’t mix up your flow. You don’t have to change everything around as much, especially in the game is where it really becomes a factor. So you need guys like that for sure.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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