Lions Mailbag: On Larry Warford's season

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Big game for the Detroit Lions this weekend in an attempt to erase a 22-game Wisconsin-based losing streak.

Who knows, maybe if the Lions win, they’ll be able to pick up some cheddar on the way to the airport.

This week also debuts the Lions mailbag, filled with your questions. As I used to remind others when I covered Michigan, the mailbag is only as good as you make it, so the better and more interesting (and why not, more wacky) the question, the more lively the mailbag.

For questions for next week’s mailbag, send them to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or on Twitter hit me up at @mikerothstein or use the hashtag #LionsMailbag

Now on to those questions:

@oobeau78 from Twitter asks: Are any of the free agents that the Lions let go playing better than their replacement? Seems like they aren’t.

MR: That’s an interesting question, Beau. David Akers, other than his Arizona struggles, has been consistent in place of the retired Jason Hanson. Last I checked, that Reggie Bush guy is doing (insert Larry David voice here) pretty, pretty, pretty good in the Detroit offense. Sure, Joique Bell is still a strong runner and a great back to have with him, but Bush has evolved the Lions offense.

Safety Glover Quin has 15 tackles, four passes defended, a fumble recovery and two interceptions, so I would also consider him a strong pickup in place of Amari Spievey. Rashean Mathis has also turned into a starting corner, so that was pretty good, too. I think the Lions did well with their free agent additions this year.

@motorcitizen from Twitter asks Tell us more about the potentially Pro Bowl season (Larry) Warford is having. Ranked in the top five for his position?

MR: Hey Motor, let’s slow up just a small amount on the Pro Bowl talk for Warford, not that he isn’t having a fantastic season. He is. And not that he isn’t going to potentially make it, because he might. But to call him a Pro Bowler after four games might be a little bit premature.

There is little doubt, though, that Warford is having a standout first season with the Detroit Lions. It helps him that he’s playing next to a rejuvenated Dominic Raiola and came in with the tutelage of LeCharles Bentley. Those two guys have absolutely assisted his apparently smooth transition from woebegone Kentucky to the Detroit Lions, where he has already won more games in his first month as a pro than he did in his final college season. I’ll be curious to see where he is two months from now.

@dsobes from Twitter asks (Matthew) Stafford and Bush making the offensive line look good or the other way around?

MR: Can we pull a little from group A, a little from group B and call it a day? In all seriousness, they have both been doing very well. The line has benefited from Stafford's quick release times and Bush's ability to turn a small hole into a big gain.

But look at Bush's touchdown run last weekend. The offensive line created a hole so big I could have walked through it and gained five yards. So that's a major assist for Bush. And Stafford, he's getting rid of the ball quick, but he doesn't necessarily have to because he's getting time in the pocket. Raiola, the veteran center, plays a big part in that.

So a bit of both, I'd say.

@no__religion from Twitter asks Why isn’t (Joseph) Fauria utilized more often, and how do you think he will match up against Green Bay, if he gets any playing time this Sunday. He’s a game changer when he is on the field.

MR: Clearly, it’s Jimmy Fallon’s fault. Hi, Jimmy. (Kidding) In all seriousness, like you, I was surprised by the lack of targets for Fauria against Chicago, although it didn’t have to do with his snap count. He received more snaps than he has in the past, I think part of the reason he didn’t have any targets came from where Detroit was on the field. He’s a giant red zone presence and can be utilized very well there. If the Lions end up in the red zone, I think you’ll see him get targeted. He’s still a rookie, so some of this feels very matchup oriented. As far as this week, he’s catching passes and scoring touchdowns in every other game this season and since he got no targets this week, this absolutely faulty logic would mean he would this week. All of this is to say, I’m not positive exactly why he isn’t getting more looks, but I’d imagine his role will increase as he continues to catch up to the NFL game.