Thu, 22 Oct 2020

NOTEBOOK: Golladay returns to practice

Detroit Lions
24 Sep 2020, 20:25 GMT+10

Tim Twentyman

The Detroit Lions could be getting a big weapon back on the field this week.

Pro Bowl wide receiver Kenny Golladay took part in practice Wednesday for the first time since injuring his hamstring in practice before Detroit's Week 1 game vs. Chicago. The hamstring injury has prevented Golladay from strapping it up in Detroit's first two games, losses to Chicago and Green Bay.

Getting back on the practice field Wednesday is a good first step toward Golladay potentially being able to play in his first contest of the season Sunday in Arizona.

"I expect us to keep pushing forward and arrow up on that," Patricia said this week on Golladay's return to practice. "So we'll see what it looks like obviously, but I think we're close. We'll get him out and get him in some of those situations, and a lot of times it's how does the body react after we put guys in those situations that we really try to gauge because you certainly don't want to do something then have it in a weaker state, then go out and have an injury that's maybe more substantial after."

Golladay is Detroit's top receiver. He led the team and NFL with 11 touchdown grabs last season. He's one of the best deep threats in the game with his combination of his size and physicality, and his potential return Sunday would give the Lions their full complement of skill-position weapons for the first time this season.

"He's one of the top wideouts in the league and he's shown that in his production the last years. He's been incredible," Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Wednesday, when asked about Golladay's potential return Sunday. "His style of play and physical nature, if you watch it, he'll definitely bring a lot of juice to their offense and they have (Danny) Amendola working the slot and Marvin (Jones Jr.) outside as well and T.J. (Hockenson). They have a bunch of weapons and I would expect (Golladay's return) to give them a huge boost."

Starting right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai was also back at practice Wednesday in limited fashion after missing the last two weeks with a foot injury.

Early in the week, things seem to be trending towards the Lions finally having their full repertoire of offensive weapons on hand for Sunday.

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WIN RATES UP FRONT

It's sometimes difficult to evaluate offensive and defensive line play beyond the obvious statistics of yards allowed or gained, or sacks and pressures allowed or produced without really sitting down and studying the tape.

But ESPN has created a new metric to measure performance in the trenches - in both the run and pass game - using player tracking data from NFL Next Gen Stats.

Their pass rush win rate metric tells us how often a pass rusher is able to beat his block within 2.5 seconds. Similarly, their pass block win rate metric shows us the rate linemen can sustain their blocks for 2.5 seconds or longer.

In their run stop win rate metric, a defender can earn a win by beating his blocker so he's in better position to stop the runner, disrupting the pocket or running lane by pushing his blocker backwards, containing the runner so that he must adjust his running lane or recording a tackle within three yards of the line of scrimmage. If a defender earns a run stop win, his blocker earns a loss, and vice versa.

So where do the Lions rank after two weeks?

Defensively, the Lions rank last in the NFL in pass-rush win rate at just 19 percent. Detroit's allowed the most rushing yards (408) in the NFL through two weeks, and their run stop win percentage of just 27 percent ranks 29th.

"We've got to do a better job coaching it, and we've got to do a better job executing it," Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin said of Detroit's run defense up to this point. "That's it.

"We could go round and round and talk about what's disappointing or what I saw - it doesn't really matter at this point. It's my job to get in the meeting room, point it out. It's my job to get the players to believe in it and go out and execute it better. I've got to do a better job coaching, we've got to do a better job playing, and I would leave it at that."

Offensively, Detroit ranks ninth in the NFL with a pass blocking win rate of 63 percent. They're 24th in run block win rate at 66 percent.

Individually, Lions center Frank Ragnow made the Top 10 in the individual player rankings as he's fifth among centers with a pass block win rate of 98 percent.

PRACTICE SQUAD PROTECTIONS

The Lions have protected quarterback David Blough, tight end Isaac Nauta, defensive back Dee Virgin and running back Kerrith Whyte on their practice squad this week, which means no team can sign those players off Detroit's practice squad.

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