3 Players Lions Must Feature More the Remainder of Season
With the Lions now officially eliminated from playoff contention, it's time to turn the page to next year.
The Lions have quite a few youngsters on their roster that should start seeing meaningful playing time and not only to further develop but also to gauge what they can do come 2020.
According to Lions head man Matt Patricia, whether or not the young guys will start to see increased playing time depends on how well they perform in practice.
"(Practice) is where you really try to earn that sort of responsibility, that sort of trust from your teammates and your coaches that you understand what the gameplan is, what you're doing, what the technique is (and ) the fundamentals," Patricia said. "And then, you get the opportunity to carry that over into the game. And hopefully, you make the best of your opportunity at that point."
Regardless, there still isn't really any good reason to play journeymen veterans over players that will need to contribute down the road.
Here are three players the Lions must continue to give game reps to:
CB Amani Oruwariye
In the past couple of weeks, Oruwariye has seen a heavy uptick in playing time due to the injury to starting corner Rashaan Melvin.
Melvin is likely to return sooner than later, but that doesn't necessarily mean he should automatically see his usual amount of snaps.
Given that Melvin is only on a one-year deal, the position is likely Oruwariye's to lose moving forward.
Oruwariye has not disappointed so far.
He already has an interception, and is only allowing a 54.6 passer rating when targeted.
Corners usually take some time to develop, especially late rounders.
Many draftniks felt that Oruwariye was a Day 2 talent.
Obviously, he has some flaws that made him fall down teams' draft boards.
No better time than now to see if those shortcomings can be worked out.
Maybe the Lions can expedite the learning curve by continuing to give him those valuable reps the rest of the season.
EDGE Austin Bryant
Bryant was activated off of the injured reserve a couple of weeks ago.
Battling pectoral injuries dating back to his senior season at Clemson, he is a little behind in the rookie process.
Not only that, but the Lions also appear to want him to work behind Devon Kennard in the JACK linebacker spot -- a position that is slightly different than what he was used to while in college.
He saw 16 snaps in his NFL debut against the Washington Redskins.
However, he was relegated to zero just a week later on Thanksgiving Day against the Chicago Bears.
Considering he was a fourth-round selection this past April, the expectations are for him to be a contributor in the near future.
Lions linebacker coach Al Golden sees Bryant as a versatile defender that can do it all.
Someone that will be a movable chess piece on the edge needs reps practicing the different situations.
“He’s doing a good job. I think we’ll continue to progress him, and he’s going to have a defined role here moving forward,” Golden said. "He’s come out of the injury really well, and (I’m) excited to see him down the stretch in the last quarter."
On Bryant's versatility, Golden commented, “He can rush on the edge, he can drop, he’s got versatility for third down and we’re going to use him in all those instances in the homestretch here. He’s got great length -- a natural pass rusher. There’s a lot of nuances to playing that position, and he’s done a great job learning it."
RB Bo Scarbrough
Technically, Scarbrough is not a rookie.
He may feel like one, though, considering he never saw a regular season snap before coming to Detroit.
In his three outings so far, he has averaged 17.6 carries, 78.6 yards per game with a 4.5 yards per carry average.
Just for comparison's sake, starting running back Kerryon Johnson was gaining just 3.3 yards per carry behind the same line before landing on injured reserve.
Scarbrough's 3.32 yards after contact average also bests Johnson's 2.60.
Talent has never been an issue with Scarbrough.
It's been injuries that have largely derailed his career.
Maybe it's not wise to run a player with an injury history into the ground. However, if Scarbrough can continue his impressive pace, it would likely make the need to find a second option to pair with Johnson less of a dire need.
You have to like what you have seen from Scarbrough so far.
Lions need to do their due diligence, though, and make sure he is not just a flash in the pan.