Each week, we’ll take a look at how the Detroit Lions’ rookies fared in the prior week’s game along with trends and stats for the rest of the season.
Now at the halfway point of the season, almost every Detroit rookie has made some sort of contribution.
The Lions started four rookies last Sunday, from first round pick Ziggy Ansah to undrafted free agent LaAdrian Waddle. Almost all of them, though, had some sort of role. Larry Warford has been a starter from the first play of the season and Sam Martin has been a mostly consistent punter.
Here’s a deeper look at the performance of rookies to date.
DE Ziggy Ansah (first round, BYU): Anash was limited Sunday, injuring his ankle in the first half and he did not return. It kept the rookie to just 12 snaps (21 percent) but he was productive in those snaps, making two tackles and being part of a defensive line that pressured Dallas quarterback Tony Romo early Sunday. A lot of that pressure, though, came from Nick Fairley.
Ansah’s snap percentages after the opener, when he was recovering from injury:
Arizona -- 70 percent; Washington -- 62 percent; Chicago -- 68 percent; Green Bay -- 72 percent; Cleveland -- 75 percent; Cincinnati – 70 percent; Dallas -- 21 percent.
CB Darius Slay (second round, Mississippi State): Another week, another entry into the game for an injured starter. This time, Slay came in because Bill Bentley only played 13 snaps due to a knee injury. When Slay came in, he played mostly outside corner, bumping Rashean Mathis inside to nickel. He had really good coverage on one of Dez Bryant’s touchdowns, but not much he could do when Bryant caught it one-handed on his shoulder. Slay played 18 snaps (32 percent), made one tackle and also had a special teams tackle.
RG Larry Warford (third round, Kentucky): Nothing new here. Another full game for Warford, who has become Detroit’s most consistent rookie. He rarely allows sacks and has become a reliable presence next to veteran center Dominic Raiola. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked once and hit seven times.
DE Devin Taylor (fourth round, South Carolina): The beneficiary to Ansah’s injury was Taylor, who saw 53 percent of snaps (30 plays), the most significant action of his career. Taylor only had one tackle, but had consistency in his play.
P Sam Martin (fifth round, Appalachian State): Not a real busy week for Martin. Four punts with a gross average of 50.8 yards and a net of 39.5 yards. It was his lowest net average since week 4 against Chicago. He had one touchback and no punts land inside the 20-yard line. He also had two kickoffs go for touchbacks.
RB Theo Riddick (sixth round, Notre Dame): Active for the first time since a concussion against Green Bay on Oct. 6, he played 18 special teams snaps and two offensive snaps. Those offensive snaps were productive, though. He had one carry for seven yards and one reception for seven yards. So he touched the ball 100 percent of the time he was in on offense.
TE Joseph Fauria (undrafted, UCLA): This was baffling. Detroit has two tight ends on the roster and Fauria has established himself as a red zone threat. He threatened no one Sunday, not targeted once and not playing any snaps I can remember in the red zone. He only played 19 percent of snaps and 15 plays.
A brief look at Fauria’s tracking:
Week 1 -- three targets, three catches, one touchdown, 14 percent of snaps (11 plays).
Week 2 -- no targets, no catches, 10 percent of snaps (six plays).
Week 3 -- three targets, one catch, one touchdown, 18 percent of snaps (12 plays).
Week 4 -- no targets, no catches, 20 percent of snaps (13 plays)
Week 5 -- no targets, no catches, 13 percent of snaps (9 plays)
Week 6 -- three targets, three catches, three touchdowns, 31 percent of snaps (23 plays)
Week 7 – four targets, one catch, 40 percent of snaps (31 plays)
Week 8 -- no targets, no catches, 19 percent of snaps (15 plays)
OT LaAdrian Waddle (undrafted, Texas Tech): Waddle played 79 of 80 offensive snaps Sunday in his first career start. He was replaced on one play by Jason Fox, but returned to the game after that. Have to still evaluate the film but the offensive line only allowed one sack. The sack came from Waddle’s side, but did not appear to be his responsibility.