Stephen Tulloch was an every-down linebacker during his first four seasons with the Lions, but after a poor Week 1 performance, the coaches reduced his role in Week 2.
The starting middle linebacker played 44 of 65 defensive snaps, mostly ceding duties to Tahir Whitehead, who had 17 snaps, when he exited, and coach Jim Caldwell declined to provide details for why Tulloch came out of the game at time.
“We run different packages,” he said. “You’ll see a lot of different guys in on different situations depending on the team that we play.”
The Lions did little effectively on defense Sunday as the Vikings, led by Adrian Peterson, ran for 199 yards. Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was an efficient 14 of 18 for 153 yards, too.
Josh Bynes was the only linebacker who played every snap. Because he replaced DeAndre Levy on the weak side, Bynes’ large role comes as no surprise, but he was the linebacker the Lions chose to play in the dime package, not Tulloch.
Travis Lewis started on the strong side again, but played just 10 snaps. Kyle Van Noy and Brandon Copeland each played six snaps, mostly as pass rushers.
“We have a lot of guys that can play a good brand of football,” Caldwell said.
Those linebackers, though, were far from stellar. Tulloch’s six tackles led the group, and he played better than in Week 1. Bynes had five tackles, including one for loss, and Whitehead and Lewis had three tackles apiece.
Here are some other notable snap counts from Sunday’s game:
Wide receivers: Calvin Johnson, 78 (of 78); Golden Tate, 73; Lance Moore, 60; Corey Fuller, nine.
Analysis: For the first time under the new coaching staff, Johnson played every offensive snap, which is a step in the right direction for an offense that substitutes players too frequently. Johnson had 10 catches but just 83 yards in an inefficient day. Tate was by far the best player in the group with six catches for 80 yards. Fuller has no targets yet this year as the Lions refuse to throw deep.
Running backs: Theo Riddick, 35; Ameer Abdullah, 31; Joique Bell, 18; fullback Michael Burton, 10.
Analysis: Riddick played the most because the Lions were running their 2-minute offense for most of the second half, and even though he had 41 yards on five catches, his lost fumble overshadows the performance. Abdullah had six carries for 9 yards and one 9-yard catch, which is far too few touches. Bell had four carries for 2 yards and two catches for 16 yards, and he failed on a 2-point conversion.
Reserve defensive backs: Cornerback Josh Wilson, 34 (of 65), cornerback Quandre Diggs, 12; Isa Abdul-Quddus, 10.
Analysis: The Lions substituted their starting defensive backs more than usual as Darius Slay missed six plays, Rashean Mathis missed seven and James Ihedigbo missed two. Most of Abdul-Quddus’s plays came in the dime package, but he filled in for Ihedigbo a few times. A few of Diggs’ snaps came after Wilson suffered a cut on his chin.
Defensive tackles: Haloti Ngata, 50; Tyrunn Walker, 48; Jermelle Cudjo, 21; Gabe Wright, 10.
Analysis: Despite dealing with a shoulder injury, Ngata played 77 percent of the snaps. He and Walker are clearly the best two tackle options by a mile, and it’s unclear how much of a role Caraun Reid will have when he returns.