Lions look to get playmaker D'Andre Swift involved earlier in games

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Through two games, running back D'Andre Swift has been Detroit's second-leading receiver, catching 12 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. The problem is most of the production has come in the latter stages of games, when the Lions are already down multiple scores. 

Heading into this Sunday's matchup against Baltimore, all but three of Swift's receiving yards have come when the Lions are trailing and 89 of the 106 yards have come in the second half. The Lions were down 28 points late in the third quarter when he had his biggest gain, a 43-yard touchdown reception against the 49ers. 

D'Andre Swift has put up solid numbers through two games.

Running backs coach Duce Staley acknowledged the team needs to find a way to get Swift more involved early in games. 

"Very important (to do that)," Staley said. "We always want to put our best players in position to make plays. He's definitely one of our best players, and we as a coaching staff, got to do a better job in putting him in position, starting with myself. We will.

"He's an elite athlete," Staley said. "He's been doing that, hurdling players, making players miss for a very long time, so we got to put him in a position to make plays."

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Swift hurdled a defender in the closing minutes against the Packers on Monday night. The highlight reel play unfortunately came when the outcome was already decided. Some might see the decision to leave his feet as a questionable one, with so little on the line and a lingering groin injury from training camp. Still, Staley has no interest in coaching the behavior out of Swift. 

"You can't hold them back like that," Staley said. "He's out there, he's doing that, apparently he seen something that all of us didn't see, and it worked, once again. You don't want to hold a guy back like that." 

Flowers status in question

The status of Trey Flowers for Sunday's game is up in the air after the linebacker didn't practice for a second consecutive day as he works through both a shoulder and knee injury. 

"We're just going to assess it toward the end of this week and see if we can get him back," Lions coach Dan Campbell said. "I don't see him practicing today. Continue to rehab. He'll be getting the mental work and we'll see where he's at tomorrow."

The Lions have leaned heavily on Flowers to start the season. The outside linebacker has been on the field more more than 75% of the team's defensive snaps, although the playing time dropped from 89% to 65% between Week 1 and Week 2 as the knee began to bother him. 

If Flowers can't go, expect Charles Harris, Julian Okwara and Austin Bryant to see extended playing time. Harris has served as Detroit's top pass-rushing reserve through two weeks, registering 41 snaps, while Bryant and Okwara have combined for just five. 

Defensive responsibility

Plenty has been made of Campbell's postgame comments on Monday, where he pinned the 35-17 loss to the Packers on his offense, seemingly letting the defense off the hook. That's all well and good, but Detroit's leadership on that side of the ball isn't taking a free pass. 

"Definitely, for us, defensively, I think it's on us," defensive lineman Michael Brockers said. "We have to do better for our offense. And it's always like that. I think it should always be like that as a part of a team. If you feel like you did anything wrong, even if it was one play, you have to be better on that play.

"For me, yes, I put it on the defense," Brockers continued. "I said, 'We have to be better for you guys. You guys control the clock. We got to get the ball back to you more.' That's just our job. We just want to do our job. ... That's what I want — I want that challenge to be better the next time we go out, to be better for our offense."

Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn took it a step further. He said allowing any points, let alone 35, is too many. 

"If we score, we have enough points to win," Glenn said. "I don’t care if it’s three points or if it’s seven points, that’s the mentality that I want our defense to have. And they understand that.

"We just gotta make sure that each time we come out, we continue to improve," Glenn said. I know it’s heavy, all right, but keep letting those points go down. Because that’s the essence of winning football games, right? Don’t let 'em score. So I understand what Dan said, but there’s a mentality that we have that we gotta get better."

Ravens QB sits

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson didn't practice on Thursday because of a non-COVID-19-related illness.

According to local reports, Jackson reported his hip was still sore after needlessly flipping into the end zone on what ended up being the game-winning touchdown 

"I’m kind of sore," Jackson said this week. "I didn’t want to tell Coach because Coach would've probably said something to me about flipping next time. I don’t know. I’d probably do it again though. It was pretty cool."

Father meets son

For the second time in his career, Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will coach against his son, Baltimore Ravens defensive backs coach D'Anton Lynn. 

Prior to their current positions, the two worked side-by-side with the Jets, Bills and Chargers. D'Anton is in his first year with the Ravens after a three-year stint with the Houston Texans. 

"I haven’t thought much about him to be honest with you, but he’s probably enemy number one right now," Anthony Lynn said with a smile.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers