The Detroit Lions are set to square off with the Buffalo Bills on Friday evening in Detroit. Ironically, at the same time, just steps away from Ford Field, Miguel Cabrera will be chasing history with the Detroit Tigers.
It has the makings of a fun evening of in-person sports in the city of Detroit for the first time in what feels like forever. Cabrera is one home run away from 500, which is a career milestone. At the same time, fans will be welcomed back to Ford Field for the first time in over a year.
Last season the Detroit Lions limited in-person attendance to just family and friends. Despite only being a preseason game, I expect to see a relatively large crowd on hand Friday evening at Ford Field.
Here are three things to watch during the Detroit Lions’ first preseason game.
1. How will Jared Goff command the offense?
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Detroit Lions fans have grown so accustomed to Matthew Stafford being under center for the organization, but it’s time for Jared Goff to take the reins. Goff will play out the 2021 season with a chip on his shoulder; he’s heard the offseason chatter about being just a bridge quarterback.
Although the starters won’t play much Friday, it will be settling for fans to see Goff have success operating Anthony Lynn’s offense for a couple of series.
2. Will Penei Sewell anchor the right side of the offensive line from day one?
The Detroit Lions will plug their cherished no. 7 overall draft pick from the 2021 NFL Draft in at right tackle. Sewell is a left tackle by trade, but Taylor Decker occupies that position in Detroit for the time being, and he’s surged protecting the blindside over the past couple of seasons.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Detroit Lions offensive line performed exceptionally well last season and was ranked as the 13th best unit. Adding a player like Sewell to an already stout unit should launch this group into a top-five offensive line in 2021.
3. Look for Detroit Lions’ second-year cornerback, Jeff Okudah, to bounce back.
The Detroit Lions spent the no. 3 overall pick in 2020 on Okudah, but he vastly underperformed as a rookie. It may seem like an excuse, but I assure you that it is not. Between battling various injuries and being utilized foolishly as a rookie in Matt Patricia’s scheme, 2020 is a year to forget for Okudah.
Okudah is one of the players garnering plenty of offseason hype, and it’s time we see it translate on the football field. Okudah deserves a clean slate, and I’m intrigued to see his development under the guidance of his positional coach Aubrey Pleasent and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.
4. Watching the highly praised rookie class punch in to work for the first time.
I mentioned Penei Sewell a bit earlier, but I’m also interested to see Alim McNeill, Amon Ra St. Brown, and co.
If you’ve followed my work, my top draft crush on the defensive side of the football was McNeill, and I was overly thrilled to see Brad Holmes secure the dynamic nose tackle in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. I’m interested to see if McNeill can live up to the training camp hype when the lights come on.
I also feel rookie receiver St. Brown will see a plethora of work in his first season. The Lions will deploy Tyrell Williams and Breshard Perriman as the top two pass-catchers to begin the season, but they will be supported by Quintez Cephus, Kalif Raymond, and St. Brown.