Lions snap counts: Receivers pick up the slack
Despite playing without receiver Calvin Johnson the Lions were able to improve on offense, with quarterback Matthew Stafford passing for almost 300 yards and two touchdowns in the 24-17 win over the Jets on Sunday.
Johnson finished with two catches for 12 yards, but several other receivers picked up the slack statistically.
Johnson, who is recovering from an ankle injury, played in just 37 of the Lions' 65 offensive snaps (57 percent), down from 76 percent last week against the Packers. The biggest beneficiary was Jeremy Ross, who played 18 more snaps — and made the most of his chances, catching a 59-yard touchdown pass from Stafford midway through the second quarter.
Golden Tate (eight catches, 116 yards) and Corey Fuller played about the same percentage of snaps as last week, but Ryan Broyles, who was on the active game-day roster for the first time this season, played on five snaps, pulling in a 21-yard catch on a third-down play.
With Johnson hobbled, the other receivers — including tight end Eric Ebron, who caught his first touchdown — were a big help.
OTHER NOTABLE SNAP COUNTS:
Right tackle: Garrett Reynolds 49, Cornelius Lucas 16
Analysis: Reynolds apparently has gained an advantage, with a three-to-one advantage in offensive snaps. The position still looks shaky, with the Jets getting good penetration on the right side, but regular starter LaAdrian Waddle is healing and the Lions are hopeful that he could return for Sunday's game against the Bills.
Running backs: Reggie Bush 38, Jed Collins 28, Joique Bell 26, Theo Riddick 2.
Analysis: Bell got more snaps last week, but the scales tipped more in his favor after Bell left the game because of an apparent concussion, and Riddick suffered a hamstring injury. In the final drive, the Lions only had Bush and Collins available.
Tight ends: Brandon Pettigrew 54, Eric Ebron 33.
Analysis: With Johnson limited, Ebron became a bigger target, matching his season total with three catches, gaining 34 yards. But his 16-yard touchdown pass from Stafford was one of his season highlights, showing good concentration and hands in holding on to a tough pass in traffic. Pettigrew caught both of his intended passes and added good pass protection.
Defensive ends: Ezekiel Ansah 40, Jason Jones 40, George Johnson 36, Devin Taylor 14, Darryl Tapp 10.
Analysis: Jones got a big bump in playing time, gaining 17 percent more playing time. He finished with one tackle, but the line in general got pressure on Jets QB Geno Smith and he was just 17-of-33.