It’s finally here Detroit Lions fans. The Lions officially make their return to Ford Field tonight to face the New York Jets. The excitement around Detroit is palpable at the very least. For info on tonight’s game, check out our game preview. There will be many things to watch out for tonight, but this afternoon I would like to share the five things I will have my eye on during the game.
Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
1. How does Calvin Johnson look?
Calvin has looked great in cap thus far. Actually Calvin has looked better than he’s looked in a while. Tonight I would like to see if we can get a glimpse of what Calvin will look like in 2015. The serving size should be small as he and the first team will likely play limited snaps. I’m willing to bet Matthew Stafford will be looking for his favorite target tonight.
2. How will the offense look in its first showing?
Last season the Lions offense had a lot of trouble getting of the starting block. It’s safe to say that this cost the Lions a game or two in 2014. Coming into the offseason the clear number one objective was to bolster the Lions offense and get everyone on the same page.
So far the Lions appear to be doing just that. They used the draft to aid their ailing run game, and held private workouts in Atlanta to help build chemistry between Matthew Stafford and his receivers. The Lions are also saying all the right things about the status of their offense. Golden Tate was quoted as saying the offense had gone ” from geometry to AP Classes” Lions fans will get a small taste of that tonight.
3. Will the Abdullah hype train take off tonight?
The legend of Ameer Abdullah has been growing larger and larger as the days go by. Scouts and beat writers alike have been gushing about rookie running back since OTA’s began. Going into camp with a clear mind and realistic thought process, even I found myself climbing aboard the Abdullah express.
While the former Nebraska stand out really impressed me at training camp, I still feel that things need to materialize on the field. Tonight Lions fans will get chance to see what Ameer Abdullah can do in an NFL game. The Lions have struggled mightily since the departure of Barry Sanders, tonight could be the end of that.Even the great one see’s something in him.
4. How will the defense look?
Dec 14, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (94) runs onto the field giving fans high fives before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
It’s hard to get a firm grasp on what the Lions defense will look like with a few major pieces missing from it tonight. Haloti Ngata being the biggest piece of them all. But what Lions fans will get to see is how the Lions plan to defend in 2015. You’ll also get to see how far Caruan Reid has come since his rookie year, and how Ezekiel Ansah will respond to be the man on the defensive line.
For me, I’ll be looking to see how Stephen Tulloch plays in his first game since he tore his ACL in week three of the 2014 season. I’ll also be looking at how Tahir Whitehead plays on the outside, and what the Lions are planning to do with Kyle Van Noy.
5. Has special teams improved?
This has been a major question of mine all offseason, How will the Lions improve their special teams unit. So far Matt Prater has been money in camp, and Sam Martin has looked sharp as well. But what about the return game?Right now the Lions have Jeremy Ross slated to do their kick and punt returns. Has he improve at all? How will new special teams coach Joe Marciano fix one of the Lions most consistent issues?
One thing that caught my attention at camp was the Lions were trying rookie running back Zach Zenner at the return spot. Will the Lions try that out tonight in a live game setting?
One thing I’ll definitely have an eye out for is all the stoked football fans in Ford Field tonight. While it is a pre-season game, I expect there to be a large turnout tonight. The buzz is over, the talk is over, Let’s play some football.
Mike Payton is an Editor at SideLion Report. He is from Holland, Michigan by way of Warren, Michigan. He considers himself to be obsessed with the Detroit Lions. Mike’s work has been featured on ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio and si.com. Mike is also a recurring guest on It is what is with Sean Baligian on ESPN 96.1. Follow Mike Payton on Twitter @Lionmike26
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