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Bleacher Report – Vikings

With Tate traded, Lions still have plenty of weapons

By Matthew Coller

The Detroit Lions took the NFL by surprise on Tuesday when they moved leading receiver Golden Tate in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles.

At 3-4, Detroit sits in last place in the NFC North, but division leader Chicago has just a 4-3 record. The Tate trade would appear to be the Lions punting on their chances to make a second-half run at a division title. But they shouldn’t be dismissed as a dangerous opponent for the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday at US Bank Stadium.

“Unfortunately we thought we would try to do what was best for the team at the time,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said Wednesday. “Golden is a guy who is a great person and was a great teammate, but in that particular moment it’s something we thought would be beneficial for us.”

”We have a lot of good players on this team, a lot of players that we believe in and they are going to have to step into whatever roles we ask them to step into and execute at a high level,” Patricia added.

Detroit sits mid-pack in most offensive statistical categories, ranking 17th in points and 16th in yards, but they sit seventh in rushing yards per carry and eighth in percentage of drives in which they have produced points.

Struggles in the running game have been a staple of the Matt Stafford era in the Motor City, but the Lions have built up their offensive line and found a potential star in former Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson. The rookie averages 6.1 yards per carry and has 21 receptions at 7.5 yards per catch.

“Kerryon is someone that has done a really good job of just trying to work hard and learn the roles that we’ve been asking him to fill,” Patricia said. “He’s someone that’s a quiet kid that’s really trying to learn the game. It’s his first year, so he’s got a long way to go and he’s going to continue to develop.”

Detroit’s receiver tandem — paired down now from a trio — of Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay has been very efficient when targeted by Stafford. The Lions’ quarterback has a 113.8 rating when throwing in Jones’ direction and 120.0 when targeting Golladay. Those numbers aren’t too much different from that of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.

In last year’s matchup, Jones caught six passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings.

The question now is which other receiving options will step into Tate’s role. Tight end Luke Wilson was the most targeted player (four targets) last Sunday against Seattle outside of Tate, Jones and Johnson.

Candidates include tight end Michael Roberts, running back Ameer Abdullah and receiver TJ Jones, who have a combined nine catches this year.

The post With Tate traded, Lions still have plenty of weapons appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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