"Lions coach Dan Campbell said he might ease Gibbs into action in the Thursday night opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. He told reporters the team will want to be “smart” with his usage in his debut with an eye toward the full season.
“We want to have enough in where we know he can help us win here," Campbell said."
While that was possible to see Campbell's words as a buzz kill for Gibbs' Week 1 fantasy prospects, it was also an overreaction with noting to go on until we saw what the workload split with David Montgomery looked like.
Montgomery started Thursday night's game and was the clear lead back for the Lions, as he helped grind out the win over the Chiefs with 21 carries for 74 yards and the game-winning touchdown. He played 55 snaps (79 percent), to Gibbs' 19 (27 percent).
Gibbs' lack of snaps was noticed and lamented by Lions' fans and, of course, his fantasy owners when the Lions' offense had some struggles on Thursday night.
Jahmyr Gibbs will certainly play more moving forward
Gibbs made a clear impact when he was on the field. He had 42 yards on seven carries, with two catches (on two targets) for 18 yards. Pro Football Focus credited him with six forced missed tackles on his seven carries, with 34 yards after contact. Per PFF, he played two snaps out wide and two in the slot in a sampling of his versatility. He had a touch, in a raw sense, on 47.4 percent of his snaps (Montgomery--38.1 percent).
PFF data also showed Gibbs did not strictly occupy the "D'Andre Swift role" in the Lions' backfield, seeing 12 snaps of "early down" work. But Montgomery is clearly a trusted pass protector (nine pass blocking snaps to Gibbs' zero on Thursday night), and that will get him on the field.
The plan was pretty clearly to ease Gibbs into action in his NFL debut, and it happened as he was also impactful with his opportunities. His snap share, and share of opportunities in the Lions' backfield, will only grow from here. Week 1 was unique in a lot of ways. It was a stepping stone for the Lions' rookie back, and a tease of what he can do moving forward.