Allen Park — Detroit Lions rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis has seen his role shrink the past two weeks, from playing 100 percent of the defensive snaps to closer to 80 percent the past two weeks.
Davis is being lifted from the lineup in obvious passing situations, an area that’s been a struggle during his inaugural campaign.
“I think that the reason it was scaled back is because we thought again like anything, thought Tahir (Whitehead) was doing really well in terms of how he was handling the coverage,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. “So, we wanted to put, like anything, whatever we think is the best for us to win that game.
“At this point in the season, we want (Davis) to develop, but we can’t have him develop at the chance that we’re sitting a guy that could probably do that position better at this particular time,” Austin said. “And Jarrad will get better because he’s working at it. He’s getting reps in practice. But right now we think in some of those positions that Tahir is going to be a better fit for us right now.”
2017 DETROIT LIONS SCHEDULE
The strategy has paid some early dividends, as Davis recorded seven tackles against the Vikings last week. More importantly, he didn’t give up a reception in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus.
The schematic alteration also has opened up the door for second-round pick Teez Tabor to get some extended playing time in the dime packages the team deploys when Davis goes to the sideline.
Tabor played 13 and 14 snaps the past two weeks, respectively, back-to-back season-highs.
“I think, with a young guy, you want him to make some plays, but more importantly you want to make sure he knows what he’s doing and that’s the one thing,” Austin said of Tabor. “He’s a very bright young man, and understands what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. The execution sometimes, the final part of it, we have to obviously improve, but I like where he’s going.”