NFL Team Report - Detroit Lions - INSIDE SLANT


Entering the 2014 season, the Detroit Lions' secondary was the team's biggest weakness, but through two games, the unit has exceeded expectations.

In Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers, the group will have a chance to truly gauge whether or not the start has been a mirage.

Top cornerbacks Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis will share the duty of covering Jordy Nelson, one of the NFL's top receivers. The 6-foot-3 Nelson leads the NFL in targets with 30, yards with 292 and is tied for lead in catches with 18.

"Jordy's a pretty good receiver," Slay said. "I'm ready for the challenge, and I'm ready for him to bring his A-game just like I'm going to bring mine."

The Lions (1-1) and Packers (1-1) will play for an early edge in the NFC North. And no matter how the Lions' secondary looks, the entire defense has to contain quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is 9-1 in his career against Detroit. The only loss was a 2010 matchup during which Rodgers sat the second half with a concussion.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell was asked Wednesday if Rodgers has any weaknesses.

"I haven't seen any," he said. "He's exceptional."

Slay, a second-round pick 2013, has played tight in man coverage, but struggled a bit in zone thus far, which he said will improve over time.

"I'm playing at the level I need to be playing at," Slay said after the Lions' 24-7 loss to the Panthers Sunday. "One thing I can do is just get better, and that's what I'm going to continue to do."

But Nelson's receiver partner, Randall Cobb, will test the Lions, too, especially with Bill Bentley and rookie Nevin Lawson - their top two nickel cornerbacks - already on injured reserve. Playing primarily in the slot, Cobb has 11 catches for 97 yards and three touchdowns.

Two games into the year, the Lions rank second in the NFL allowing just 57.5 rush yards per game. They are ninth in pass defense allowing just 197.5 yards per game.

The Lions' defensive line should have opportunities to pressure Rodgers against a struggling Green Bay offensive line, but the secondary will need to prove itself for the Lions to have a chance Sunday.

SERIES HISTORY: 168th regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 94-66-7. Lions have never won a game Aaron Rodgers started and finished. Most historic meeting between these two teams was on Dec. 28, 2008 when the Packers beat the Lions, 31-21, in Green Bay to give the Lions the only 0-16 record in NFL history.

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NFL Team Report - Detroit Lions - NOTES, QUOTES


--Lions rookie kicker Nate Freese is just 2-for-5 on field goals this season, but coach Jim Caldwell said he will remain the kicker for Sunday's game.

Freese missed a 43-yarder in Week 1 and two 49-yarders in Week 2, prompting the Lions to work out three veteran kickers - Alex Henery, Rob Bironas and Garrett Hartley.

Caldwell said after the Week 2 loss to Carolina that the Lions would look at all their options.