Lions notes: Detroit looks to contain Kyler Murray, Cardinals' dual-threat quarterback
Allen Park — The last time the Detroit Lions faced a lethal dual-threat quarterback, Baltimore's Lamar Jackson, they limited his ability to do damage with his feet. This week, they'll look to carry over the positives from that performance when they try to similarly bottle up Kyler Murray.
It certainty wasn't a flawless defensive performance against Jackson. Although he was limited to 58 rushing yards, he did find a way to break free for a 31-yard gain, inflating his total.
More importantly to the Ravens' ability to pull off a win in that game, Jackson had plenty of success throwing the ball downfield, completing six passes of 20 or more yards, despite receiver Marquise Brown putting three catchable deep balls on the ground.
That's a notable danger if you commit too many resources to keeping Murray from scrambling. He is one of the league's best downfield passers, currently ranking seventh in average depth of target and first in yards per completion.
"I think the one thing that's not talked about with this player, more than anything, is just his ability to just throw the ball, whip it," Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said. "He has a really nice deep ball. Kinda reminds me of (Seattle Seahawks quarterback) Russell Wilson, the deep ball, because it has really good touch on it.
"He's accurate outside the pocket," Glenn continued. "He can make these off-platform throws. Then his ability to escape pressure and make plays. That's what he is, he's a quarterback that's an athlete that can make plays all over the field, not just with his arm, but with his feet, also."
Glenn said the Lions have to stay disciplined with their rush lanes and do everything they can to keep the 5-foot-10 Murray in the pocket, forcing him to throw "throw through a forest, not through a highway."
Murray, an early-season front-runner for the MVP, has slipped a bit in recent weeks after missing three games with an injury. Still, the former No. 1 pick is having an outstanding season, completing 71.6% of his passes for 2,782 yards, while rushing for another 267 yards and five touchdowns on 66 carries.
Hello, old friend
On Sunday, the Lions will welcome kicker Matt Prater back to Ford Field. After spending the better part of seven years with the franchise, he signed with the Cardinals as a free agent this offseason.
The NFL's all-time leader in field goals from 50 yards or longer, Prater's leg strength has been on full display in Arizona, where he's made six-of-eight attempts from that distance, with a long of 62.
For the year, he's 20-of-25 on field goals, as well as 42-of-43 on PATs, rebounding from his down year with the Lions last season.
Prater got a two-year, $6.5 million contract from the Cardinals, with the money being the primary factor that prevented the rebuilding Lions from trying to keep the 37-year-old kicker in the fold.
"He's not fallen off at all. He looks great. ," Lions special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said. "...I didn't feel like I thought he had slipped at all, really. He had missed some kicks the year before here. I didn't think that was all necessarily just him."
With Prater's departure, the Lions have struggled to find a replacement. They cut Randy Bullock, Zane Gonzalez and Matt Wright before the season, prior to claiming Austin Seibert off waivers. He ended up missing time, twice, first with COVID, then a season-ending hip surgery. The Lions have since used three more kickers in his place.
Detroit's current choice, Riley Patterson, is an undrafted rookie snagged off the New England Patriots practice squad. He's been steady through his first two games, making all four of his field goals, with a long of 49.
Beyond the nine ongoing COVID cases, the Lions remained without starters Jonah Jackson (back), D'Andre Swift (shoulder) and Julian Okwara (ankle) for Thursday's practice.
Linebacker Alex Anzalone, who suffered an ankle injury Sunday against Denver and missed Wednesday's practice, was back in action on Thursday.