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Jarrad Davis' playing time cut while Jahlani Tavai has bigger role for Lions

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Jarrad Davis is used to playing a lot. In 25 of his past 27 starts, the Detroit Lions linebacker was on the field for at least 85 percent of the team's defensive snaps and never fewer than 78.6 percent outside of a game where he suffered a season-ending injury. 

So it was noteworthy Davis was only on the field a little more than half of Detroit's defensive plays in the season-opening loss to Chicago, especially after the Lions had to compensate for the first-half ejection of Jamie Collins. 

Jarrad Davis

Davis, a team captain for the second consecutive year, acknowledged he'll always want to play as many snaps as possible, but he's trusting the coaches' game plan. In the meantime, he's focused on being the best teammate he possibly can, even when he's on the sidelines. 

"When it's my time to go out there, I go out there and play to my best, play to the best of my ability and do what I can to help the team," Davis said. "But while I'm on the sideline, I'm still locked in, I'm still dialed into the game, and I'm just trying to make sure whoever is out there, that they're making the play, that they're helping us out, they're trying to put us in the best position that they can. So I'm trying to give my input as much as I can to assist."

More: NFL assigns Lions same referee as last year's controversial Packers game

With Davis' role reduced, last year's second-round pick Jahlani Tavai saw an increased workload. He also wore the green dot — previously a Davis duty — signifying he was handling communication with the sideline. Christian Jones also played more than Davis in the loss. 

Davis and Tavai each had four tackles in the game. Jones finished with one. 

Davis, a first-round pick in 2017, is in the final year of his rookie contract with the Lions. The team declined to pick up a fifth-year option on that deal this offseason, although coach Matt Patricia was quick to reaffirm Davis' importance to the roster after the decision. 

"Yeah, I mean, I think J.D. is a cornerstone of what we’re trying to do and he’s in those big-picture plans in where we’re trying to go," Patricia said in May.