Five best rookie performances for the Lions in the first eight games of the season:
1. Right guard Larry Warford. Money. This third-round pick was born to play right guard. He’s solid, mistake-free. It’s been a seamless transition on the offensive line.
2. Joe Fauria, the tight end who became a national dance sensation after his three-touchdown game against the Browns. He hasn’t seen much action since then but coach Jim Schwartz said it isn’t because they are de-emphasizing him, it has more to do with game plan. They waived Tony Scheffler because of their confidence in Fauria who undrafted. Fauria has eight catches and five of them are touchdowns.
3. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah started off on fire, has slowed down since. He’s proven to be worth a first-round pick. He has three sacks, second only on the team to Ndamukong Suh who has 3.5.
4. Punter Sam Martin’s mistakes stand out by the nature of his position — and he’s had a few of them as a rookie. Most recently a shanked punt against the Bengals. But overall he’s been solid. He ranks first in the NFL in net punt average at 46.3 yards and fourth in average punt yardage at 48.5.
5. Cornerback Darius Slay started out looking really like a rookie, but has improved. He’s coming off the bench and has made some big plays.
Honorable mention: LaAdrian Waddle who started at right tackle against the Cowboys. It’s possible he could have won that starting role with his solid play. He may be at the top of the rookie list at the end of the season.