Lions' O-line has forgettable preseason home opener
Detroit — The Lions’ first drive of the game gave a glimpse of the woes on the offensive line.
Short gain for Ameer Abdullah.
Fumble on the exchange between Matthew Stafford and Abdullah.
Stafford sack for a 10-yard loss.
The result: a three-and-out, with an emphasis on the out.
Graham Glasgow, who had an injury scare this week, started at center, but T.J. Lang was out at right guard, requiring some patchwork fixes.
The Lions struggled offensively in their 30-17 loss to the New York Giants on Friday night at Ford Field in the second preseason game. They managed just three points through the first three quarters and the offensive line couldn’t get much going in the running game.
“Our execution has to be better overall in some of those situations. There are different facets to those plays, so it might be a little bit of a different circumstance than just maybe looking at the protection,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “We have to go back and really try to improve and get better. Obviously, we didn’t perform very well and it’s going to start with the coaching, and I have to do a better job.”
LeGarrette Blount led the run game with 32 yards on 11 carries; the rest of the backs combined for 35 yards on 11 carries. Blount accounted for all 32 yards in the third quarter, providing the one bright spot for the offensive line. However, the Lions only managed 78 yards of their 167 yards of total offense through three quarters in the third.
“Obviously, it wasn’t good enough because we didn’t win and we didn’t move the ball,” guard Kenny Wiggins said. “Here and there, it’s just little things that need to be fixed and I don’t think they’re that glaring a problem. It looked like it tonight.”
In addition to the run game, the pass protection was a concern, starting with the sack on Stafford on the first possession. They allowed two more sacks in the game: another to Stafford — who only played three series — and one to backup Matt Cassel.
Rookie Kerryon Johnson, who had a promising debut last week with 34 yards on seven carries against the Raiders, totaled just four carries for nine yards. Aside from Blount, no other Lion had more than 10 yards rushing.
Cornerback Darius Slay was the focus of attention on the defensive side, but not because he was getting a marquee matchup with Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who didn’t play in the game.
The starters got to play a bit more Friday night and Slay made a couple of good plays in the first quarter, but also was called for pass interference, which caught his ire.
“It was just good, getting some more extra reps in. They’re competing at a high level, to see how long we can do it, see how much we can stand,” Slay said. “Just working really, just trying to get each other to know each other.”
On one of his pass-breakups, Slay did his familiar finger wag to let the receivers know they weren’t going to get any easy ones against him. Though it’s still the preseason, Slay was in regular-season form there.
“Oh, yeah. We’re going to get a lot of that. That’s what I do,” he said. “Making plays, these plays are hard to come by; these plays not easy to make, so I’ve got to show my appreciation.”
Reserve linebacker Steve Longa looked to sustain a knee injury in the third quarter, going after Giants backup quarterback Kyle Lauletta, who was scrambling after being chased out of the pocket. Lauletta made a quick move to the inside and Longa hobbled and fell to the turf.
After being examined by team physicians, Longa was taken to the locker room and did not return to play. After the game, Longa had walking crutches and a brace on his right knee.
The Lions had a moment of silence to honor Detroit icon Aretha Franklin, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 76. The video board showed a montage of photos and videos of Franklin, including her memorable rendition of the national anthem before a Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field in 2016.
The Lions also recognized Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, who received a rousing ovation as he was shown on the video boards. The sparse crowd broke into chants of “Barry! Barry! Barry!” to honor the star running back.