3 Points: Lions Need Red Zone Work

Team needs to improve its red zone efficiency; rookie running back Jahvid Best continues to impress. Three points from Saturday's 25-20 preseason win over Denver ...

3 Points:

1. Starting Cornerback

Chris Houston and Eric King struggled mightily to contain Denver's receivers, often drawing the ire of the coaching staff -- especially coordinator Gunther Cunningham. On a 4th down late in the first half, King gave up a completion to the Broncos' Jabar Gaffney on an almost identical route and completion three plays earlier that burned King.

Houston struggled on the opposite side of the field.

Broncos' QB Kyle Orton finished 16 of 22 for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

Detroit's cornerback position was considered precarious entering training camp, and two games into the exhibition season, there remains a reason for concern. If the Lions don't apply enough pressure up front, as they were unable to do last season, the secondary will suffer as a result.

2. Red Zone Offense

On their four trips to the red zone against Denver in the first half, Detroit's starting offense came away with just one touchdown. And while Matthew Stafford's pass to Calvin Johnson in the end zone appeared to be on a rope, the lone score didn't satisfy the team's coaching staff.

It's evident to everyone that the Lions offense will be able to move the football. They did so at will against Denver in the first half, both via the air and ground, but the shorter field needs to yield better results.

On two of his red zone passes that fell incomplete, Stafford's touch was too aggressive to tight ends Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew.

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone if the Lions spend the bulk of their offensive repetition this week at camp on red zone offense, fine tuning offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's playbook.

3. A Clear Cut No. 1 Back?

Although the Lions have made it clear that they'll employ multiple running backs in the offense, it seems certain that rookie Jahvid Best will carry the bulk of that load.

It would be silly if he didn't.

Best carried eight times for 49 yards (6.1 yards per carry) against Denver, and if not for a defensive facemask, might have had a lengthy touchdown run on the team's first series.

Best ran both between and outside the tackles, demonstrated excellent vision, and is a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield.

Although incumbent Kevin Smith continues to recover from last year's ACL injury, it's clear what player gives the Lions the most production -- and big play ability -- between the two.

Honorable Mention

Steve Hauschka isn't going to replace Jason Hanson, but after his performance at Denver, he'll at least find a job somewhere in the league.

Hauschka connected on all four of his field goal attempts, and most of his kick-offs sailed out of the end zone. The Broncos managed just one kick return the entire game.

Once Hanson returns, the third-year journeyman won't be unemployed long.

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