Lions' Crosby has solid debut as left tackle fill-in

By Matt Schoch
Special to The Detroit News
Tyrell Crosby

Detroit Lions rookie Tyrell Crosby, a fifth-round pick out of Oregon, made his NFL debut on Sunday, playing eight snaps at left tackle.

Crosby replaced Taylor Decker, who coach Matt Patricia said was dealing with an undisclosed injury.

“I thought he did a nice job being ready to play,” offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said Tuesday. “He did just fine. We were in pass-the-ball mode … and for an offensive lineman to not really show up in a negative manner, that’s a good thing for a young guy.

“He was ready to go. Had a good look in his eye when he ran out there. He’s been improving ever since we’ve gotten him.”

There has been no update on Decker’s status heading into Wednesday’s practice.

Crosby’s snaps were the first of the season where right tackle Rick Wagner and Decker did not bookend the offensive line. Crosby played in the fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a Matthew Stafford interception near the Seattle goal line and the game's final play when Golden Tate caught a 9-yard pass in his last snap with Detroit.

More: Lions trade Golden Tate to Eagles for third-round pick

More: Lions need more Kenny Golladay after Golden Tate trade

On the mend

The usually vaunted Vikings defense received a boost when defensive end Everson Griffen returned last weekend after missing five games with a mental health issue.

Griffen, who has 11.5 sacks and 21 quarterback hits in 15 career games against the Lions, had a tackle in 43 snaps in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans.

Nose tackle Linval Joseph also returned after being sidelined for a week, while linebacker Anthony Barr (hamstring), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) all missed the game.

Joseph and Barr particularly play a key role in the double-A gap blitz scheme traditionally employed by coach Mike Zimmer, where the linebackers line up near the line of scrimmage on either sides of the center.

Reading what those linebackers do on the snap will be a focus for the Lions' interior line, including rookie guard Frank Ragnow.

“It’s something we’re seeing plenty of in the league these days,” Cooter said. “But they have a diverse set of looks. If you sort of just home in on one, you’re going to be maybe not ready for something else. 

“We’re preparing for everything.”

Reiff return?

Former Lions first-round pick Riley Reiff has missed three straight games for the Vikings with a foot injury.

The 23rd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft played five seasons in Detroit before leaving for Minnesota in free agency before last season, signing a five-year deal for $58.75 million.

After playing his final season in Detroit at right tackle, Zimmer shifted Reiff back to left tackle.

Running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring) has also missed five of the last six Minnesota games.

Tough roads

While the Lions are opening a two-game stretch of divisional road games, this weekend's game is the first of three straight for Minnesota against all the NFC North foes.

After that stretch, Minnesota will play at New England and Seattle and at home against Miami, before closing with two more divisional games: Dec. 23 at Detroit and Dec. 30 against Chicago.

Minnesota’s remaining non-divisional foes have a 14-9 record (.609 winning percentage), while Detroit’s remaining non-divisional opponents — home vs. Carolina and the Los Angeles Rams and on the road at Arizona and Buffalo — are 17-14 (.548).

Line dancing

Lions fans seeking consistency might have to wait even longer.

In Patricia’s first season, the team has shown a knack for overperforming when you least expect it, and suffering letdowns when things are going well.

It’s a formula Lions fans grew accustomed to most notably in the topsy-turvy 1990s when Wayne Fontes-led teams could stack up to anybody in the league one week and then no-show when corners appear to be turned.

As favorites, the Lions have a .333 outright winning percentage, with favorites around the league winning at a .648 clip.

Underdogs have a .313 outright winning percentage in games, while the Lions are .500 in that scenario.

However, the Lions 5-2 record against the spread is tied for second-best in the NFL with New Orleans and Washington. Those teams have benefited more from their surprise success, though, combining to go 11-3 and comfortably on pace for the NFC playoffs.

Only Kansas City, at 7-1 against the spread, has a better mark.

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.