This Detroit Lions late rounder should get more playing time

The Detroit Lions managed to topple the Super Bowl contending Los Angeles Chargers. And one rookie was able to show just how helpful he can be for his team.

The Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Chargers traded early blows, but remained mostly silent on the scoring front (save one Charger field goal) until late in the fourth quarter. That’s when quarterback Matthew Stafford threw an absolute dart to wide receiver Kenny Golladay for what would turn out to be the game winning touchdown. Stafford had what was an otherwise very good day spoiled by two interceptions, while the running game once again largely struggled to get much going.

Defensively, the Lions allowed their opposition to put up over 100-yards on the ground again for the second consecutive week. But they were able to keep the Chargers out of the end zone most of the game while playing the bend, don’t break philosophy to perfection for the length of the game. And being rewarded with two missed field goals which turned out to be huge. Overall, although there was plenty of bad, the Lions played good enough to get it done and walk away with a huge win.

Now, there was a rookie that took the field a handful of times in Week Two and was very good when given chances on the field. I would like to see him get more touches after an impressive performance against the Chargers Sunday afternoon. And that rookie is sixth round running back Ty Johnson out of Maryland University.

Johnson barely saw the field in Week One against the Arizona Cardinals getting just one carry for six yards. But the coaches must have seen something they liked in practice this week because he got on the field a few more times and showed just how much he can help this offense.

Yesterday against the Chargers, Johnson received two targets in the passing game and five carries on the ground. In a game where nobody could get going on the ground and even fellow running back Kerryon Johnson could only average 3.4 yards per carry on the ground, Ty Johnson found a fair amount of success on the ground.

Ty Johnson ran the ball five times for 30 yards while averaging six yards per carry against a defense that otherwise stuffed the Lions’ run game. When he was on the field he was electric and showed his speed while bursting through holes at the line of scrimmage and leaving linebackers in the dust on one particular carry that went for over 15 yards. Ty Johnson also showed some impressive strength fighting for extra yards every time he got the ball.

In the passing game the rookie showed good hands and didn’t have any problems catching the ball. While his catches didn’t go for huge yardage (one for six and one for zero yards) he has the ability and speed to break one at any time.

Taking both the way Ty Johnson played on the field and the box score stats, he should get some more carries and more targets on offense. While more carries might be hard to come by because of the two backs ahead of him already showing they can handle the running duties, I wouldn’t mind giving the sixth rounder more snaps in favor of Anderson considering his speed and ability to blow by the defense.

However, with running back Theo Riddick no longer on the team the primary pass catching back option is still up for grabs. Kerryon Johnson showed he can be explosive after the catch with a 36-yard touchdown catch and run, but bobbled the ball a few times before be could rein it in and get going.

Had the play design not left Kerryon so wide open his bobbling the ball could have resulted in either a loss of yards, incompletion, or even an interception. He also dropped a perfectly placed ball thrown by Stafford on a third down that hit him in the chest and then slipped right through his hands.

These are problems that could persist. And, if they do, could see Ty Johnson take control of the pass catching back role as he has shown he has good hands and the ability to do damage after the catch. He actually had a touchdown reception from Stafford on a very similar play design on the preseason with similar coverage from the linebacker:

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Ty Johnson has shown that he deserves to get onto the field more both as a runner and a pass catcher. Ty has blinding speed that no one else on the offense has and whenever he is on the field that speed could very well lead to big plays and touchdowns. He has shown enough in game situations to receive more looks and when he is able to carve out a definite role for himself in this offense he could take off and not look back, carrying the offense with him to new heights.

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