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Lions Will Play Starters against Atlanta Falcons

Dan Campbell reveals how long the starters will play against the Atlanta Falcons.

It’s officially game week for the Detroit Lions.

The team will ramp up practice and preparation before taking the field together for the first time in 2022. 

The preseason opener, scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Ford Field, against the Atlanta Falcons, will be the first time fans can get a look at Dan Campbell’s second team in a game setting.

Though preseason games are often a display for those battling for roster spots and starting roles, there will be a fair amount of action for Detroit’s starters against Atlanta. 

Campbell said Monday that the starters will see around a quarter of action in the opener.

“I’d like to get our starters some reps in this game, maybe a quarter,” Campbell said. “There again, you just can’t mimic game speed and game intensity. The only way to get ready for a season is to simulate that intensity. But, at the same time, I want to be smart, too.”

Campbell added that he has spoken with Arthur Smith, the head coach of the Falcons, and that both teams want to play their starters. The plan for the starters, in terms of playing time, will be fully put together when the Lions' coaches meet as a staff Monday after practice.

No concern about Jeff Okudah

Jeff Okudah is an important piece of the Lions’ future.

The third-year defensive back was viewed as a potential franchise cornerstone when he was drafted third overall in 2020. However, he has yet to live up to that billing, with injuries having derailed the start of his tenure.

After an Achilles' injury ended his 2021 season in Week 1, the former Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback has dedicated himself to getting into the best shape of his pro football career. To this point in Lions training camp, Okudah has proven he’s back in good health.

“He looks good,” Campbell said. “The physical side of everything he’s doing is good. He looks good, he’s come back. We have no concern about the Achilles. Physically, he looks good, he needs reps. He needs reps, he needs to play,. That’s the thing that we can never lose sight of. He’s going into year three, and he really hasn’t played.”

In total, Okudah has played in just 10 total games over his first two seasons. He’s made seven starts, in which he's totaled 51 tackles and one interception. 

Currently, the corner is battling with Will Harris to start opposite Amani Oruwariye.

“He just hasn’t had significant playing time,” Campbell reiterated. “So, he just needs reps. But, physically, he’s doing good. He’s working at it, he wants it.”

Seibert winning kicking battle

The Lions have a decision to make on the special teams side.

The team currently employs two kickers competing for a starting role, in Austin Seibert and Riley Patterson. The former began last season as the team’s kicker, while it was the latter who closed the year.

Seibert kicked in six games for the Lions last season before undergoing a season-ending surgery. Patterson took over, and finished the year 13-for-14 on field goals and a perfect 16-for-16 on extra points.

Early on in the training camp battle, it appears Seibert has the edge in the eyes of Campbell, who expressed as much following the team’s Family Fest practice on Saturday.

“I think they both did a good job, but I felt really good about Seibert,” Campbell said. “Right now, if you’re asking me today, he’s a tick better. I thought he did a helluva job in there, just kicking. His kickoffs were outstanding. Now that being said, Patterson’s still not banging away. It’s not like he’s not in there, and we’ve still got a long way to go. Patterson’s doing a good job, but I really like where Seibert’s at.”