The Detroit Lions, rejuvenated and sporting a revamped roster, are set to face off against the Super Bowl-contending Kansas City Chiefs on September 7. Slated for an 8:20pm ET kickoff at the historic Arrowhead Stadium, this prime-time event will feature two high-powered offenses.
The Excitement Builds
General Manager Brad Holmes spoke about the mounting excitement: “Yeah, it does feel good and like what I’ve always said, I’m just happy for the fans and for the city of Detroit because they deserve that. They deserve excitement. They deserve hope, so that’s really good.” Holmes highlighted the importance of staying grounded despite the hype, emphasizing the team’s mindset of being hunters rather than targets.
The decision to place the Lions in the season opener is a nod of respect from the NFL schedule-makers. This is the first time since the NFL introduced the “Kickoff Game” in 2002 that the Lions have been invited to participate. The honor likely acknowledges the Lions’ stellar performance in the latter part of the 2022 season, where they rallied from a 1-6 start to win eight of their last ten games.
If you’re a Lions fan, the defensive strategy against a team like the Chiefs is top-of-mind. Head Coach Dan Campbell laid it out plainly: “We need takeaways on defense. I think that’s what we have to come away [with] this game.” Campbell further noted the importance of converting on third down on offense, emphasizing the need to sustain drives against a potent Chiefs team.
Roster Moves and Key Player Returns
This week has been particularly noteworthy around the NFL, with teams, including the Lions, required to have their final 53-man roster and practice squad roster set. Holmes revealed that the goal was to build a balanced team capable of enduring the long NFL season. “We’re just taking it step-by-step, phase-by-phase, really,” he said. Notably, the Lions did not claim any players off the waiver wire but were active in the free-agent market, fortifying the squad for the challenges ahead.
A significant addition to the Lions’ 53-man roster is cornerback Emmanuel Moseley. Moseley had his first full practice with the team on Friday. Moseley, a key free agent addition this offseason, is expected to lock down the cornerback room alongside Cam Sutton and Jerry Jacobs. However, it remains unclear if Moseley, who is recovering from a torn ACL, will be 100% ready for week one. Coach Campbell remained optimistic but cautious, “Man, he’s really a… he’s a grinder and what bodes well for him is he’s smart.”
Preparing for the Chiefs
The Lions received a potential break as Chiefs’ All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones was placed on the Reserve/Did Not Report list due to ongoing contract extension negotiations. Jones, one of the best defensive players in the NFL, finished 2022 with 15.5 sacks. An impressive number for a defensive tackle. Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach expressed optimism about Jones’ return before Thursday. But, even if he suits up, his fitness level remains a question.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who will play at Arrowhead for the first time, acknowledged the stadium’s reputation for noise, “I’ve heard it’s loud. I know it’s loud and we’ll be ready for it.” Preparing for a game against the likes of Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes is no easy task. But the Lions, as Holmes reiterated, will always be the hunters aiming for the target.
The Final Countdown
The stage is set for an electrifying season opener. With a revitalized roster, a determined mindset, and key players returning from injury, the Detroit Lions are ready to roar into the 2023 NFL season. “We’re not scared of the expectations,” Holmes said, epitomizing the team’s newfound confidence.
So will the Detroit Lions make a statement in the season opener? In a matchup packed with storylines, the only thing that’s certain is that all eyes will be on Arrowhead next Thursday night.
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Original Photo Credit: © Kyle Terada – USA TODAY Sport