Dizon still not in rotation
No one expected Jordon Dizon to be the Lions' savior at linebacker, but a month into the season no one expected him to still be sitting the bench, either.
But that's where Dizon will be this Sunday when the Lions host the Bears in Game 1 of the post-Millen era and probably longer. Lions coach Rod Marinelli was asked about the progress of his second-round draft pick after practice Wednesday.
"Right now I look at him just on special teams," Marinelli said. "I want to see where he's at."
Dizon played 14 defensive snaps in the Lions' season-opening loss to the Falcons. He made three tackles, didn't have an assignment error, and didn't play a down with the in-helmet defensive speaker system the Lions have reserved for their middle linebackers. (Dizon replaced Paris Lenon twice when Lenon suffered injuries and didn't bother to check his wired helmet out either time).
Since the Atlanta debacle, when Dizon showed a some of the playmaking reasons why the Lions drafted him 45th overall, he hasn't played a defensive down. He was in for only a handful of special-teams plays in a Week 2 loss to Green Bay, then sat out the San Francisco game with a stinger. He said Wednesday he could have played against the 49ers.
Marinelli said Dizon's status as a reserve is due mostly to the play of Lenon, the Lions' starting middle linebacker. Lenon, like most of his teammates, missed a handful of tackles in the opener but rebounded with two solid games. Nothing spectacular, but his 24 tackles are second most on the team.
I've advocated giving Dizon more playing time for a while now (alongside Lenon, not at the veteran's expense). There's a reason the Lions rushed to draft him in the second round and there's a reason they tried to sign Takeo Spikes, Jon Vilma and a few other veteran linebackers this offseason.
But it looks like Dizon and most of the rest of Detroit's young defensive talent will be out of the rotation until further notice. If the Lions are going to snap out of this tailspin, they're determined to do so with their vets. Cliff Avril may get some chances as a rush end. Landon Cohen was about to get his shot against the 49ers until Cory Redding's sprained ankle was deemed healthy enough to play. It's time for Ikaika Alama-Francis to start on the left side.
Eventually, if this season continues down its current path, all of those youngsters and more will get their shot. For now, it looks like status quo in Allen Park.
"We're still working to get (Dizon) in," Marinelli explained. "It's not like we're shutting this guy out, but Paris is the guy right now we're going to play."