By: Dan Hasty
The Lions picked up a 34–24 win over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at Ford Field. Today, you might be talking about Reggie Bush gaining 191 total yards; a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Barry Sanders did it in 1990. Rightfully so, Bush stole the headlines in Week 1.
I recently spent a few minutes with Amy Lawrence of CBS Sports Radio talking about the victory.
While Bush’s performance was impressive, here are three players that deserve more credit than they’re getting today:
1. Riley Reiff
Based on what we saw during a decade of Jeff Backus, people gave the 2012 first-round pick little chance to hold his own against All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen. Reiff easily passed his biggest NFL test with flying colors, holding Allen to just one sack. The former Iowa Hawkeye still has things to work on, but he showed us exactly why the Lions spent a first-round pick to get him one year ago.
2. Nick Fairley
Coming off of strong 2012 season, Fairley dominated in his first game of 2013. Despite lining up next to Ndamukong Suh, Fairley was the Lions best defensive tackle by a wide margin. People expected Fairley to have a rookie season resembling Suh’s 10-sack rookie year.
Like most defensive tackles, Fairley took about two full seasons to develop. The Lions are now reaping those benefits. Credited with 1.5 sacks in Sunday’s win, Fairley avoided collecting a personal foul throughout the game; an achievement after leading NFL defensive tackles in that category last season. This year, Fairley may give fans that 10-sack season after all.
3. Joseph Fauria
The nephew of Christian Fauria already looks to be the crown jewel of the Lions undrafted free-agent signings (if there is such a thing). 6’7″ tight ends with athleticism should never go undrafted, but Fauria spent April’s NFL Draft watching as a spectator. After hauling in three catches for 27 yards and his first career touchdown, Fauria has shown the consistent pass-catching ability any team would look for. There’s no question that Fauria could finish the season as the Lions starting tight end. He needs to become a better with his blocking assignments, but he gives Matt Stafford the big, athletic tight end he’s never had.
Honorable mention: Patrick Edwards
This preseason, Edwards flashed abilities the Lions haven’t had since the departure of Titus Young. A downfield threat, Edwards wasn’t overmatched during his first NFL action, catching three passes for 30 yards. Are Fauria’s and Edwards’ numbers dominant? Not even close, but it’s not bad for a couple of rookies.