Detroit Lions: 3 disappearing acts who could reappear in 2020

Jesse James, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Jesse James, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Here are three Detroit Lions who were near invisible last season and could reappear

Several things have to go wrong in order for an NFL team to post a 3-12-1 record. And the Detroit Lions certainly fell into that category last season, with several key injuries hindering their performance in 2019.

The Lions also had some of their players pull a disappearing act last season, aiding them in posting that poor record. Here are three players who went near invisible last year that could suddenly reappear in 2020.

Jesse James, TE

After fielding one of the worst tight end groups in the entire NFL in 2018, the Lions signed former Pittsburgh Steeler Jesse James to a four-year, $25 million contract as a free agent last offseason. Detroit then turned around and used their first-round draft pick on Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson.

Unfortunately, both tight ends failed to meet expectations in their first season in Detroit. James recorded the second-lowest receiving totals of his five-year career with 16 catches for 142 yards. He also failed to get into the endzone and posted a career-low 59.3 catch percentage as an 11-game starter.

While James may be viewed more as a primary blocking tight end, his lack of offensive effectiveness combined with Hockenson’s early struggles really set back what should have been a much-improved positional group. Hopefully, both players show improved play in 2020.

Here are two disappearing acts on the Detroit Lions’ defense in 2019

Romeo Okwara, DE

While all the recent attention has been surrounding the selection of his younger brother, Julian Okwara, the Lions’ third-round selection this year, defensive end Romeo Okwara has been quickly forgotten after his disappearing act last season.

Two years ago, the elder Okwara was a pleasant surprise for the Lions. As a late addition to the roster back in 2018 via a waiver claim, Okwara would end up being Detroit’s sack leader racking up 7.5 sacks in his first season in the Motor City.

The 25-year old was expected to build on that promising start. Instead, he up and disappeared in 2019, racking up just 1.5 sacks in 14 games. Now, Okwara did see his defensive snaps fall slightly from 716 to 606. And he started in just a single game instead of 14. Perhaps the presence of his sibling playing alongside him will allow Okwara to return to form in 2020.

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Austin Bryant, DE

Admittedly, defensive end Austin Bryant‘s rookie season was severely limited due to an upper-body injury. He played just four games last year (133 defensive snaps), recording a total of eight tackles.

But there is little doubt Bryant has potential. In his final two seasons at Clemson, he posted a combined 17.0 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss.

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While last season seems to have been a wash for Austin Bryant, the 2019 fourth-rounder could face an uphill battle to avoid the practice squad this year with plenty of new competition along the Detroit Lions’ defensive line. Bryant simply can’t afford to disappear again.