LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans have familiar looks.READ MORE: Detroit Symphony Orchestra Announces Single Tickets For 2022-2023 Season
Detroit opened with a 39-35 victory at Indianapolis, its seventh win in nine games dating to last year.
The Titans, meanwhile, started the season with a loss at home to Minnesota for their fifth straight setback since last December.
The Lions seem to have a shot at extending their successful stretch against Tennessee on Sunday in their home opener.
Matthew Stafford has simply been sensational since midway through last season, finding a groove with offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Stafford has thrown 22 touchdown passes and two interceptions in his last nine games as Cooter has coached him to get rid of the ball quicker in the passing game.
“I think it’s a whole sort of offensive philosophy,” Cooter said. “We’re getting it to our best players, doing what they do best.”
The Lions lost their best player, Calvin Johnson, in the offseason to retirement. That has forced Stafford to spread the ball more, and it worked well in Week 1. Detroit had three receivers, two running backs and a tight end making at least three catches against the Colts.
“The show must go on,” receiver Golden Tate said. “So, we don’t get caught up worrying about who we don’t have. We just try to step up our game individually.”
Marcus Mariota, meanwhile, took a step back in last week’s game with a fumble and an interception in the second half that helped Minnesota win 25-16 after trailing by 10 points in the third quarter.
Mariota, the 2015 No. 2 pick overall, insisted he has learned how to move on 24 hours after wins and losses. He hopes, though, that the Titans don’t have to do much of the latter this season.
“You don’t want to get used to losing,” he said. “You don’t want to get used to the frustration. You want guys to kind of feel that burn a little bit just because it makes them hungry and motivated to not feel that way again.”
Here are some other things to watch when Detroit hosts Tennessee:
ON THE RUN: The Lions were last in the league in rushing last season, averaging 83.4 yards a game. Detroit’s ground game seems to be much improved with Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. The duo and an inexperienced offensive line should get tested more this week because the Titans limited Adrian Peterson to 31 yards on 19 carries.
WATCHING WALKER: Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey wants to get tight end Delanie Walker more involved after he had just three receptions for 42 yards last week. It might be relatively easy to do against Detroit, which allowed Colts tight ends Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle to combine for seven receptions, 88 yards and three TDs.READ MORE: Deadline Detroit Co-Founder Says Website Will Shut Down After Sept. 5
“I’m sure he’s probably smiling after he watched our film from last week,” Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said.
DECENT DEBUT: Detroit left tackle Taylor Decker, the No. 16 pick overall out of Ohio State, appeared to perform well in his first NFL game at a position that isn’t easy to play for rookies.
“It’s a good base to build off throughout the season,” he said. “They have some good pass rushers. It was good for me to play a full game to build some confidence.”
INJURY WATCH: Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy played last week, a great sign after he missed almost all of last season with a hip injury. Levy, though, missed practice Wednesday and Thursday this week because of a quadriceps injury.
Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan couldn’t finish the opener after going down with an injured left hamstring and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. If Morgan can’t play Sunday, Kevin Dodd, the No. 33 pick overall, is expected to get significant playing time. Dodd was limited this offseason after having surgery on his right foot and was on the physically unable to perform list until a month ago.
WELCOME BACK: The Titans start offensive tackles who fans at Ford Field will recognize: Taylor Lewan, the 11th overall pick out of Michigan in 2014, and Jack Conklin, the No. 8 pick overall this year out of Michigan State. Like Lewan did with the Wolverines, he fills up reporter’s notebooks with unique quotes.
“If there were a Pro Bowl for mustaches, mine would be in the Pro Bowl,” Lewan said.
AP Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report.
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