4 Players That Must Step Up to Aid Matthew Stafford

Read more on the four players that need to step up to aid Matthew Stafford the rest of the way this season
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For the Lions to make a legitimate run at the playoffs this season, not only will Matthew Stafford have to play more consistently effective football. 

But, other individuals on the offensive side of the ball will also have to step up their respective games. 

Here are the four players that will have to do so the rest of the way in 2020.

OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai

The biggest free-agent signing bust of Bob Quinn's this past offseason has plain and simple not been good enough so far.

Whether it's been missed blocks on runs, poor protection of Stafford or penalties committed, Vaitai's play has been underwhelming through his first six games in Motown.

He's also missed time this season due to a foot injury, including the first two weeks of the campaign. 

And when he hasn't played, he's had career backups, such as Tyrell Crosby, outperform him at right tackle. 

Undoubtedly, Vaitai has to block better and limit the penalties moving forward. 

It's the only way in which he'll be able to positively contribute to Stafford and Detroit's offensive attack in the team's final seven games.

WR Quintez Cephus 

It's been a challenging year for the rookie wideout.

He's suited up for six total games in 2020, including one start, and has hauled in nine balls for 138 yards on 17 targets.

Most recently, while playing in place of Kenny Golladay Sunday, the Wisconsin product failed to track down a deep ball from Stafford on the Lions' final drive of the contest. 

It was a catch that a veteran like Golladay would've highly likely made.

And as long as Golladay is out, more will be asked of Cephus.

Quintez Cephus celebrates a first down. 

Quintez Cephus celebrates a first down. 

RB D'Andre Swift

In stark contrast to Cephus, Swift has enjoyed a successful rookie campaign. 

He's amassed 331 yards and four touchdowns on 70 carries, good for a 4.7 yards-per-carry average. 

He's also coming off a game in which he made his first start, averaged 5.1 yards per rush and set career-high marks in rushing attempts (16), receptions (five) and receiving yards (68).

And now, there's the expectation that he'll be Detroit's clear-cut No. 1 back the remainder of the season.

It means he'll be counted upon even more to be consistently productive.

If he does manage to keep up the productivity, he'll not only continue to aid Stafford, but also do so in an even bigger fashion as a result of receiving a higher weekly dosage of carries.

TE T.J. Hockenson 

While it is true that the second-year tight end has grown into a reliable red-zone option for Stafford, it's also true that he's dropped his fair share of balls outside the red zone. 

On more than one occassion, he's also, because of a lack of communication, ended up in the same area as another receiver after finishing his route.

He only caught two balls for 13 yards on four targets a week ago against the Washington Football Team. 

Especially when Golladay's out, he needs to be a more reliable pass-catcher. 

It's all a part of Hockenson's continued career development.

And if he's able to make those strides before the season's over, it'll only aid Stafford and allow him to play at a higher level.

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