The Detroit Lions will welcome the New England Patriots to Ford Field in front of a sell out crowd and a national audience thanks to CBS. The third preseason game is traditionally the exhibition that most resembles the product we’ll see in the regular season with the starters playing at least the entire first half.
Here are five things I will be looking for as I watch the game:
1. Titus Young
The rookie wide receiver has been cleared to play so we should expect to see him get some action. It likely won’t be as extensive as the other offensive regulars but this will be the first time anyone outside of Allen Park gets to see what he can add to the offense. I’ll consider a catch or two and ending the night without a limp to be a success. He was brought in to stretch the field, however. Will he get that shot his first time out? Definitely something to watch.
2. Sample Size
It is a lot easier for players to look good when their exposure is small. There is plenty of reason to believe Matthew Stafford has looked good because he is, well, good but that will be proven correct when we see it over longer periods of time. That begins on Saturday when Stafford will play an entire half and possibly some in the second. The sample size factor is also in play for the running game. Will increased playing time allow for a rhythm to develop such that the Lions can get something going on the ground?
3. Halftime Score
How any Lions fan can care about the final score of a preseason game is beyond me considering the 2008 team went 4-0 in the fake games and 0-16 in the real games. I don’t want to put too much stock into this game as a “measuring stick” but leading at the half or playing a competitive game would be a good sign.
4. Ndamukong Suh
Remember what happened in last year’s “dress rehearsal”? Ndamukong Suh tried to rip Jake Delhomme‘s head off. He’s on the record as saying he wants to be a feared player and a national audience certainly gives him another big opportunity to send a statement – against Tom Brady no less. I’m not suggesting we’ll see anything that will draw another fine but the stage is set for something big.
5. The Crowd
The Lions get a national audience thanks to CBS and fans have responded by selling out Ford Field for the first time in a preseason game since Monday Night Football came to town in 2005. I was at that game and it was awesome – until the game started. The atmosphere was exciting as the stadium big screens let the crowd know when the national broadcast was going live and fans brought the noise. The Lions were subsequently drubbed by the Rams and the stadium quickly emptied. We should expect a spirited crowd to start but whether or not it keeps up through the game is up to the Lions.
There you have it, five quick suggestions for things to watch for during the game. Join the SLR live blog while you’re watching the game for your chance to react to what you see and get instant analysis from the SLR crew. Use the box below to set up a reminder for yourself.