Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has a bruised right hand, throws passes and hands off the ball with his right hand during practice Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Also hear from coach Jim Caldwell and OC Jim Bob Cooter.
Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
As the Detroit Lions continue to look for ways to jumpstart their struggling pass rush, one possibility is expanding Dwight Freeney’s role.
Freeney played 17 snaps in his Lions debut last week against the Baltimore Ravens, and could be in line for more time this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Ziggy Ansah and Cornelius Washington slowed by injury.
Ansah missed his second straight practice Thursday with an ankle injury, while Washington was limited by a left shoulder injury.
Freeney said he “felt pretty good” in his Lions debut. And though he wasn’t credited with a tackle in the game, he showed flashes of the ability that’s made him one of the best edge rushers of this generation.
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“Obviously, it’s an adjustment because you get in there and you don’t really know much so you’re more worried about getting lined up right rather than feeling the game the way that you normally feel it,” Freeney said. “I think that’s just part of the process. But I felt pretty good, though. My body felt good.”
Freeney, who the Lions claimed off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks late last month, played 17 of a possible 64 snaps last week, primarily as a right defensive end in the Lions’ nickel package.
He said he’ll leave it up to coaches to decide if he can handle a bigger role going forward.
The Lions are 24th in the NFL with just 23 sacks this season and have failed to record a sack in three of their 12 games.
The Bucs are tied for 19th with 27 sacks allowed.
“I think (Freeney) did OK (against Baltimore),” Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “But I think overall, I’m looking at more overall, we just didn’t get enough pressure. We didn’t get enough. We did not harass the quarterback enough last week. That’s something we have to do better. So, I’m again, continuing to look at ways to try and improve our rush, to try to improve our ability to get pressure on the passer.”
Along with Ansah, offensive linemen T.J. Lang (foot) and Rick Wagner (ankle) missed their second straight practice for the Lions on Thursday. Corey Robinson could start at right tackle in Wagner’s place Sunday, while the Lions have the option of activating Joe Dahl for help at guard.
Center Travis Swanson had his left knee heavily taped in the locker room after practice, though Swanson is expected to return Sunday after sitting out the Ravens game.
Asked if left guard Graham Glasgow might stay at center after playing well there in Swanson’s absence against the Ravens, Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said that’s up for evaluation.
“Graham has done a nice job,” Cooter said. “Graham’s played a lot of center in his time. He’s got a good comfort level in there, but I think he’s got a pretty good comfort level going at guard as well, so we’re going to look at the big picture.”
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