The Detroit Lions began the 2022 preseason slate with a disappointing 27-23 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. After leading late in the game, a fumbled snap led to the Falcons scoring on a fourth-down heave from quarterback Desmond Ridder to undrafted free-agent wide receiver Jared Bernhardt.
With a handful of established starters playing minimal snaps, the Lions got a long look at players vying for roster spots. Many of these players were given the opportunity to stand out. Here are the studs and duds from Friday’s performance.
STUD: WR Tom Kennedy
Kennedy was the star of the show for the Lions’ offense, leading the way in both receptions and receiving yards. In a loaded receivers room, a performance like this was necessary for Kennedy to show he’s worthy of a roster spot.
In all, the New Jersey native finished with eight catches for 104 yards. He converted a key third down on David Blough’s first scoring drive, then two important receptions that moved the chains in key situations during the fourth quarter. On the Lions’ final drive, he hauled in a 23-yard toss from Blough.
DUD: QB Tim Boyle
With Goff playing just one series, Boyle was given the rest of the first half and one series in the second. He made some impressive throws, including an awe-inducing back-shoulder pass to Kalif Raymond in the first quarter, and ultimately finished nine-of-16 for 111 yards.
He tossed a touchdown in the second quarter to Devin Funchess, but missed on important throws throughout his performance. His night ended with an interception deep in his own territory, as he was picked off by Dee Alford at the 26-yard line to set up an Atlanta field goal.
Blough entered after Boyle’s interception. Blough finished 18-for-28 for 141 yards, but lost a key fumble that set up Atlanta’s go-ahead touchdown.
STUD: LB Malcolm Rodriguez
The rookie linebacker started the game with a booming tackle on kickoff coverage, following the Lions’ opening score. He started at linebacker, filling in for Alex Anzalone. He finished with two tackles, but it was his stop on special teams that caught eyes.
STUD: TE Devin Funchess
Funchess, who hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2019, is attempting to resurrect his NFL career. Having switched positions from wide receiver to tight end, he’s battling to earn a roster spot. His versatility, which may be an asset, was on full display Friday.
The Michigan product caught a touchdown pass from Boyle in the second quarter, and hurdled a defender on a catch in the fourth quarter. He was a key component on the unit throughout the late stages, converting a key third down on Detroit’s go-ahead field-goal drive late in the game.
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DUD: S Kerby Joseph
The rookie was a target early for the Falcons’ offense. He was targeted on three consecutive passes, with the third ending in a touchdown from Atlanta backup Desmond Ridder to Parker Hesse.
It’s a small sample size for the rookie, but it was clear that Atlanta was targeting him near the red zone. He did finish with a team-high seven tackles, but the struggles in pass coverage were tough to mask.
STUD: QB Jared Goff
Playing just one series, Goff was sharp as the pilot of Ben Johnson’s offense. He finished 3-of-4, with two completions to St. Brown and a solid connection with tight end Brock Wright on the opening drive.
It didn’t have to be much for the signal-caller to generate optimism, but he did just that with a top-notch scoring drive for the Lions.
STUD: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
Though he played only one series, St. Brown showed his ability to do a little bit of everything on Detroit’s first scoring drive. The second-year receiver caught two passes Friday night, the first being a nine-yard flip from Goff.
The second was an impressive catch and run off a play-action pass that went for 20 yards. At the end of the run, he took a big pop but jumped to his feet and Swift scored on the very next play.
DUD: Linebacker Jarrad Davis
Davis had three tackles and a pass breakup, but committed a costly roughing-the-passer penalty that negated a Bobby Price interception. He’s a linebacker by trade, and showed some juice coming off the edge. But, the penalty hurt Detroit’s defense.
STUD: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson
The second overall pick finished with two tackles in his debut, including an emphatic stop for loss on Atlanta running back Qadree Ollison. He showed his physicality at the line of scrimmage, and faced double teams, which made it clear that opponents are anticipating him being a talented player in the league.