Detroit — The Lions suffered a significant injury in the opening minutes of the team's preseason opener at Ford Field, when wide receiver Jermaine Kearse suffered a leg injury while blocking during the game's opening possession.
Patriots defensive back Terrence Brooks missed a tackle on Lions running back Ty Johnson and crashed hard into the back of Kearse's left leg. Trainers raced onto the field after the whistle and placed Kearse's leg in an air cast before loading him onto a cart.
A late addition this offseason, the Lions signed Kearse to a one-year deal in June. The 6-foot-1, 209-pounder spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets, recording 37 catches for 371 yards and a touchdown in 14 games last season.
Because of his ability to play outside and in the slot, Kearse was expected to be Detroit's top backup receiver behind the starting trio of Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola.
If the injury proves to be serious, it creates an opportunity for the team's other receivers who are battling for roles, including rookie Travis Fulgham, Chris Lacy, Andy Jones and Brandon Powell.
Up or down?
That was one of the burning questions heading into Thursday’s preseason opener, in trying to determine from where Lions coach Matt Patricia would watch the game.
Patricia, who has spent the last few weeks recovering from surgery on his lower left leg, has been getting around practice on an ATV to keep the pressure off his leg.
Whether Patricia would watch from the coaches box or from the sideline was unclear. Patricia found a nice spot on the field, near the 50-yard line, to set up shop.
Patricia wore a headset and perched just beyond the Lions’ bench, behind the Gatorade setup.
In pregame warm-ups, Patricia was using a knee scooter to maneuver around the field. But given the turf surface, it was difficult to move around, which likely led to the stationary position behind the bench.
Fans of Tom Brady came decked out in their favorite gear, including some maize-and-blue No. 10 jerseys in addition to the customary No. 12 Patriots garb.
There was little chance that Brady was going to play in the preseason game — and he didn’t. The closest he got to participating was going out for the pregame coin toss, to some cheers.
He was on the field for pregame warm-ups but didn’t participate in any reps, nor did Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The Lions had a special guest on their sidelines during pregame activities.
John Dickson Stufflebeem, a Navy veteran of 39 years, wore a No. 15 Lions jersey. Stufflebeem, 67, was a punter in college at Navy and played with the Lions in the 1970s in the preseason.
News writer Rod Beard contributed