Injuries force Lions to dig deep into secondary

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

In the early part of the season, the Lions are facing a battle of attrition with injuries. It has hit especially hard in the secondary, where they already were without No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah going down last week in practice.  

Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears included two more injuries, with Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman leaving the game. Coleman is heading to injured reserve, which would keep him out for at least the next three games.

Lions defensive back Darryl Roberts (29) breaks up a pass intended for Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson II  in the fourth quarter.

That left more reps for starter Amani Oruwariye, along with reserves Darryl Roberts and Tony McRae, who got praise from defensive coordinator Cory Undlin for stepping into tough roles in a tight game.

“Fortunately, we've got a deep roster,” Undlin said. “I couldn't be more proud of Roberts, Tony McRae for without even blinking, stepping up and going out there and fighting at the end of the game. It didn't end up the way we wanted it to, but I couldn't be more proud of those guys.

“We'll see how it goes this week with those guys and see if we can get some guys back healthy and how it shakes out.”

The Lions almost certainly will add some depth at defensive back to improve the depth — and it’ll be a focal point this week, with Sunday’s game at Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers, who had 364 yards and four touchdowns in the Packers’ season-opening win over the Minnesota Vikings, might be licking his chops.

Rodgers obviously has a history against the Lions and being shorthanded isn’t ideal.

“We’re going to have our hands full there, regardless of who’s out there,” Undlin said. “It'll be all hands on deck as well this week. We'll go through practice, get prepared and we'll see what it looks like when we get to Sunday.”

Cephus steps up

Without receiver Kenny Golladay, the Lions had to piece together the offensive game plan. The surprise focal point was rookie Quintez Cephus, who had three catches for 43 yards. What was more surprising was the team-high 10 targets.

In his debut, Cephus got a good review from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

“He kind of took over an important role when Kenny goes down; he kind of stepped right into there,” Bevell said. “I was kind of happy for him and proud to see what he did. I think he was on his assignments, which is huge for a young player. There’s still some detail things in there that he can continue to improve upon, but for the most part he was (in the) right place at (the) right time.

“There’s plays for him to be made there as well. The plays are sometimes different things. The quarterback has to read out each and every play, and you have a preliminary idea where the ball might go, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to go there every time. He ended up getting a little bit more opportunities. I thought he did a nice job with it.”

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard