The Lions play their second preseason game on Thursday night in Washington (7:30 p.m., Fox 2). Follow all of the action here with updates throughout the game by Rod Beard of The Detroit News.
Cousins makes another good impression
With the difficulties that Robert Griffin III had during the game, it's not much of a surprise that Kirk Cousins has led Washington back to the lead -- and looked pretty good in doing it. He's been accurate and hasn't had the turnovers or sacks that Griffin had.
Of course, Griffin was in with the starters and Cousins is toiling with third-stringers, but there's not as big a margin between the two of them (or Colt McCoy) as there would seem. We don't see everything that goes on in the Washington practices, but there would have to be some other reason (money?) that RGIII is seen as a difference-maker.
Don't sleep on ZZ
Though the Lions gave up the lead after a Washington scoring drive, they were able to work their way back, with a nice possession, with three runs for 19 yards by Zach Zenner, capped by a 5-yard TD catch by Zenner from Dan Orlovsky. Zenner also had a 36-yard pass play to get the ball in Washington territory and jump-start the drive.
Zenner played well last week, too, and is at least in the conversation for trying to make the team. I mentioned the RB situation, with Joique Bell, Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and George Winn already in the mix.
The Lions lead, 17-14, and although the result really isn't that important, the second and third defensive units are areas of concern right now, with trying to stop the run late in games. Those groups wouldn't play together in the regular season, but individual plays need to be made.
Washington closes in, but RGIII is out
After the Lions took a 10-0 lead, Washington responded with a touchdown to cut the deficit to 10-7. With the reserves in on defense, the Lions didn't do much against the run game, giving up a couple of big chunks before a 1-yard plunge for the touchdown.
It's easy to dismiss the drive because the starters were out, but it's the type of sloppy play and defense that coach Jim Caldwell has wanted to clean up.
Robert Griffin III was ruled out for the remainder of the game, which was a given because it's a preseason game, but in other injuries in the game, the players were questionable, with the understanding they wouldn't come back.
The Griffin injury could be severe, but it looks like Washington isn't saying anything, which could be another sign.
The injury bug takes a couple bites
After losing Caraun Reid on the first drive because of a knee issue, the Lions also sent Larry Warford to the locker room after an injury. Washington had another scare with QB Robert Griffin III, who was sacked three times and after fumbling, went to the ground to get the ball, but was hit by Corey Wooton.
Griffin was diagnosed with a stinger and a potential brain injury -- two issues that set Griffin back in the preseason if they prove to be positive.
Stafford, Tate done after two series
T?he Lions were prudent to get Matthew Stafford and Golden Tate out after two possessions, which took almost all of the first quarter. Stafford finished 6-of-8 for 78 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions and just one sack. He went 2-for-2 with a TD pass to Tate last week but a few more passes and a few different situations were presented this week.
If you're being nit-picky, Stafford finished both drives with miscues on third down -- taking a sack on the first drive and throwing behind Corey Fuller on third-and-short on the second possession -- could be areas to improve. It's not the biggest criticism but drive-extending plays could be the difference in regular-season games.
First drive nets Lions a FG
Just like last week, the Lions scored on the first drive, this time a field goal after a short, 35-yard drive. The key play was a 19-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to Golden Tate for a first down, and Jeremy Ross had another 12-yard catch for a first down. The offense, even without Calvin Johnson, was pretty good, aside from a Stafford sack on third down.
Lions reserves to get more chances to shine
No Calvin Johnson, no problem.
No Haloti Ngata nor Joique Bell, minor problem.
The Lions will be without their starting receiver -- by choice -- as they take on Washington tonight, but also will be without Ngata and Bell, who are recovering from injuries still and haven't practiced in training camp.
There's no reason to play Johnson in a preseason game and they'll also be without receiver Lance Moore, who welcomed a baby daughter. That leaves more opportunities for fringe receivers like Ryan Broyles and Greg Salas to try to make an impression as they try to secure a roster spot. With next week's third preseason game the likely longest outing for the regulars, this could be the best shot for some of them to prove their point.
Keep an eye on Zach Zenner at running back as well, who should get a significant chunk of carries in the second half. He's likely not going to surpass Bell, Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and George Winn on the depth chart, but he could be a possibility for the practice squad.