(Photo credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports)
Heading into their home opener last week, the Detroit Lions were riding a wave of confidence and praise.
They were coming off a spirited road win over reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City on national TV in the season opener. The euphoria died down quickly last Sunday.
Following a humbling37-31 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks, when several key players were injured, the Lions look vulnerable again. They will try to bounce back during a visit from the surprising Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell believes some adversity could be a blessing.
"We're back to reality, we're back in the mud," Campbell said. "It's doom and gloom outside of this building, in this world. Man, let's just hunker down and go to work. ... Challenge accepted."
The task will be much more challenging after two defensive starters, safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson (torn pectoral muscle) and defensive end James Houston (ankle fracture), were placed on the injured list.
Two of their top offensive playmakers, running back David Montgomery (thigh) and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (toe), did not practice Wednesday.
Tracy Walker, who missed most of last season with an Achilles injury, will step in for Gardner-Johnson.
"We're fortunate to have depth at a number of areas and one of them is at that position," Campbell said. "Having a guy like Tracy, someone who we've got a lot of faith in, a lot of trust in, that alleviates a lot of pressure and stress for us."
Lions quarterback Jared Goff had the third-longest streak in NFL history without an interception snapped by the Seahawks' Tre Brown, who returned the second-half interception for a touchdown. Otherwise, Goff was sharp with 323 yards passing and three touchdowns.
"He's played at a high level for a long time," Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. "Been in a lot of big games. Good player, live arm. That's what people loved about him coming out (of college). I always love when the guy's a No. 1 pick and they act like he's some kind of reclamation project. This guy's a (darn) good player."
The matchup Sunday will feature the top two running backs chosen in the draft. Atlanta's Bijan Robinson, the No. 8 overall pick, rushed for 124 yards in the Falcons' 25-24 win over the Green Bay Packers last Sunday. He also has 10 receptions in his first two games.
"He's an elusive back," Campbell said of Robinson. "He looks like a power back but he's really got excellent feet. You give him a lane, give him space, that's where he's pretty dangerous."
Robinson has formed a 1-2 punch with power back Tyler Allgeier, who has 31 carries to Robinson's 29. Allgeier has rushed for 123 yards and two TDs.
"That's why we draft (Robinson)," Smith said. "We had a belief in how he fit our program."
Detroit running back Jahmyr Gibbs, the No. 12 overall draft pick, has averaged 4.2 yards per on 14 carries and has caught nine passes. His workload could increase if Montgomery is sidelined.
Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder passed for 237 yards against the Packers, throwing for one touchdown and rushing for another. The Falcons (2-0) have won the past four games that Ridder has started.
"We'll never be down for the count," Ridder said. "We're going to fight until that clock hits zero."
Offensive tackle Taylor Decker (ankle), safety Kerby Joseph (hip) and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (knee, hamstring) are among the other injury concerns for Detroit (1-1). Defensive end Calais Campbell (rest) was the only Falcons player to not practice on Wednesday.
--Field Level Media