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Matchups: Golladay Among 3 Lions To Watch


The Lions have all kinds of question marks heading into this game, starting with the quarterback position where Matthew Stafford has been dealing with a back injury and could miss his second straight game. If so, Jeff Driskel would get the start for the Lions, who also have several players sitting out of practice this week.

But they've got some talented players on the roster who can still be effective.

Here are three Lions players to watch and how the Cowboys might try to stop them.

Trey Flowers

He can play defensive end or tackle, with the Patriots or the Lions, and the results seem to be the same: Flowers is disruptive. A fourth-round pick of New England in 2015, Flowers only played one game as a rookie but in 2016, he started a run of at least 6.5 sacks and will probably surpass that yet again this year. Flowers had 7, 6.5 and 7.5 in his final years with the Patriots before he followed Matt Patricia to the Lions in free agency. This year, he's recorded 5.0 sacks in nine games and he also has two forced fumbles. Flowers will line up in multiple spots, meaning both tackles – Tyron Smith and La'el Collins will likely face him, along with the possibility of the guards as well as Flowers will slide inside on certain passing downs.

Darius Slay

There's not much in the way of Pro Bowl talent on this Lions defense, but Slay certainly qualifies. The veteran corner is coming off his second-straight Pro Bowl after a breakout 2017 season saw him finish with eight interceptions. Slay is a classic man coverage cornerback, and if there's a guy capable of going man-on-man against Amari Cooper, it's probably him – especially considering Cooper has been hobbled by a variety of injuries. It's hard to say if Slay will travel exclusively where Cooper goes, because he could be useful in helping against Michael Gallup. But it's a good bet we'll see a strong matchup between two Pro Bowlers frequently during this game. The biggest key for the Cowboys might be taking advantage of the other matchups in the secondary. The Lions have a solid slot corner in Justin Coleman, but their coverage on the opposite side of the formation is not up to Slay's pedigree.

Kenny Golladay

For years, Calvin Johnson made life difficult for opposing defenses as a virtually uncoverable 6-5, 240-pound outside receiver for Detroit. Now the Lions have a new matchup problem: third-year wideout Kenny Golladay, who's having a career season with a league-high eight touchdown catches. The 6-4, 215-pounder is deceptively explosive (18.3 yards per catch), and he's an ideal red zone target because of his wide catch radius. The Lions have played him on both sides of the formation. This is why the Cowboys have invested early draft picks on Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie. They are big, strong corners physically capable of matching up against rangy wideouts such as Golladay. "He's big, he's fast, a physical receiver, vertical threat, not only on the fade ball but you've got to deal with him in the intermediate area also – back shoulder fades and things of that nature," Cowboys passing game coordinator Kris Richard said.