The Detroit Lions have been the talk of the NFL since their solid start to the 2019 season, and count Barry Sanders as someone else who has taken notice.
Sanders, who was back in Detroit to lend a hand at a volunteer event at Ford Field, was asked afterwards about where the Lions are at and the energetic start to the season. As he said, he thinks the excitement from the fans and the media alike is a real thing and something which is warranted given how well the Lions have played thus far this season.
As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press explained in a piece, Sanders has a unique perspective on this year’s team and thinks that things are trending in the right direction thus far for the Lions. As a result, he thinks some of the positivity about the team has been warranted. Here’s what was written:
“I think we’ve seen really positive signs so far this season,” Sanders said Thursday during a volunteer event at Ford Field. “You’re getting into sort of conference play. It’s not going to get any easier. All of us fans are excited about this coming game, a Monday night game in the division. This is what you live for as a player.”
In his history against the Packers, Sanders was only 8-11, but did touch them up for 2,059 yards and 7 touchdowns. The rushing total against Green Bay was the second biggest total Sanders rushed for in his career against a team only to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whom he collected 2,195 yards against.
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Kerryon Johnson Catches Attention
The Lions have been trying to replace Sanders at running back nearly since he walked out the door, and while nobody could be expected to have the type of skills and dynamic style he had, Detroit feels they have a good player ready to take over the position in Johnson, the second-year runner from Auburn.
As Sanders said in Birkett’s piece, he feels as if that is the case given what Johnson has shown already to the team and the fans.
“I think he’s progressing as a young running back,” Sanders said. “I think he’s just kind of melded nicely into the offense, and he’s there. He’s been there so far when Matt’s needed him, or when the offense has needed him. He’s off to a good start. It’s like most things, it’s about just staying healthy and continuing to really improve in those situations where we need you to get those yards, to just be ready. So he’s shown every indication that he’s that type of running back.”
Johnson is coming off a solid 125-yard effort against the Kansas City Chiefs, and thus far this season has rushed for 251 yards and a score. His emergence has also helped the Lions have one of the better rushing attacks in the league given the fact they are the 13th ranked rushing offense in the league. It’s been a while since the team could boast that, and their offensive line is a big reason why that’s the case.
Sanders Chips in off the Field
As for why Sanders is around the franchise this week, it has everything to do with volunteering. He along with several other franchise luminaries and folks helped stuff food boxes for the Lions as part of their Huddle for 100 event. The goal is for folks to become inspired to volunteer, and also help the greater Michigan community put a halt to hunger.
It’s just one of the many ways that Sanders continues to give back to the team and the community long after he has retired.