When you turn on your television Monday night - - or if you are a Detroit Lions fan in attendance for the team's Week 2 contest at Lambeau Field -- who are the six Lions players to watch?
CB Ifeatu Melifonwu
The rookie corner is drawing his first career start, in place of the injured Jeff Okudah. All eyes - - including the eyes of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- will be on Melifonwu.
Look for Rodgers to target Melifonwu early and often, to see what the rookie is made of.
It's certainly what Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn expects to happen Monday, as well.
"'Welcome to the NFL as a rookie corner.’ So, I would say that. It doesn’t matter who you are, when you were drafted, where you came from, I think every quarterback and every offensive coordinator is going to try a rookie DB," Glenn told reporters this week. "But, it’s all about playing that position. I think he expects it. We expect it. He’s been having good practices. He’s had a good training camp, and I look forward to seeing the player play.”
Rodgers did the same thing last year in the early season Lions-Packers matchup, when he went right after Okudah (then a rookie), targeting him 10 times and completing seven passes against him. Rodgers will be hoping for similar results to that experience, during which Okudah finished with the worst grade of any Detroit defensive player in that game (per Pro Football Focus).
However, do not be shocked if you see a different result with Melifonwu out there. He is part of this new Lions regime, and he is a corner who hits like a safety.
DE Levi Onwuzurike
Despite not logging any defensive snaps in the opener, Onwuzurike could get a snap here or there in this one, after being named to PFF's All-Rookie preseason team.
If he is playing, he will be tasked, in the Lions' 3-4 base defense (consisting of three defensive linemen and four linebackers), with occupying blockers while holding them up as the linebackers come in to make the tackles. That is the job of a defensive end in Detroit's scheme.
LB Alex Anzalone
Speaking of linebackers, how much longer will inside linebacker Alex Anzalone be allowed to be out there with the starting unit?
In my time covering the Lions, I have not seen anything as poor as the play of Anzalone. In Week 1, he flat out looked like he did not belong on the field, and even more disappointing was his subpar motor. He showed below average fight, and he clearly lacked the physical strength it takes to win when taking on blockers.
Anzalone was an embarrassing liability that was not part of the solution. This will be a make-it or break-it game for him, with rookie Derrick Barnes waiting in the wings to make those tackles that Anzalone was unable to make.
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QB Jared Goff
On the offensive side of the ball, Goff made his debut for Detroit, and what a debut it was.
Just when you might have thought the Lions were about to get blown out, back they came, and it was led by Goff. He was unable to put the icing on the proverbial cake late, when Detroit had a chance to knot it up. However, it still was a valiant effort, deserving of recognition.
Furthermore, Goff's performance showed that Detroit has a QB. Expect him to test a shaken-up Packers secondary, which made New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston look like an early candidate for this year's NFL MVP award.
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
If Goff is to find similar or any kind of success through the dark night sky at Lambeau Field Monday, receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has got to be more of a factor than he was last week.
St. Brown turned in domestic numbers, catching two passes for 23 yards.
If St. Brown doesn't step up, expect somewhat of a repeat performance from Goff, during which he hands the ball off to running back D'Andre Swift and also finds him through the air often.
RB D'Andre Swift
On the ground, Swift was able to find some holes and exploit them for a decent 3.5 yards-per-carry average last week against the San Francisco 49ers. However, he did a lot more damage through the air, and looked more the part of a third-down, change-of-pace back in this Detroit offense.
Swift was targeted a team-high 11 times, hauling in eight of the Goff passes. On his touchdown reception, Swift about juked that 49ers defender straight out of his shoes.
In what will be the Lions' 184th all-time meeting with Green Bay, these are some of the main Lions players to watch, and all six of these players are going to have to step it up big time if Detroit is to come home with more than just turf in its cleats.
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