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Bills vs. Lions, NFL Week 5 2014: five questions with Pride of Detroit

In preparation for this Sunday's Week 5 showdown between the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions, Sean Yuille of drops by Buffalo Rumblings to answer five questions about his favorite football team.

Gregory Shamus

How close to 100 percent is Calvin Johnson expected to be as he continues to work through an ankle injury? And how has Golden Tate managed to be so productive despite Johnson's limitations?

Yuille: Johnson said after last week's game that he wasn't even 90 percent healthy. Although he indicated that he's feeling somewhat better this week, it's unlikely he's going to be fully healthy by Sunday. In all likelihood, he will again play a bit of a decoy role and see a limited number of snaps while he continues to recover.

As for Tate, he has really done a nice job of getting open underneath and turning short passes into big gains. His hands are as good as advertised, and he is really, really good when it comes to gaining yards after the catch.

How much has the absence of LaAdrian Waddle (which may come to an end this week) factored into the Lions' struggles to consistently run the football?

Yuille: It's definitely been a big part of it. The Lions lost Waddle on their opening drive of the season, and his backup, Corey Hilliard, suffered a season-ending injury later in that same game. Since then, the Lions have been going with a rotation of Garrett Reynolds and Cornelius Lucas, and neither player has been effective. Reynolds is really more of a guard, and Lucas is an undrafted rookie. The Lions have been purposely avoiding running the ball to the right side given their issues there, but as you said, Waddle's absence may come to an end this week.

What has been the biggest factor in the Lions' quarter-season stretch of defensive success, in which they have emerged as the No. 1-ranked unit in the league?

Yuille: New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin seems to be the biggest overall factor. His scheme has gotten the most out of the Lions' talent, which is something that Jim Schwartz was unable to do in Detroit. The Lions are getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, their run defense has been quite solid and even the secondary is performing at a pretty high level. I think that all goes back to the changes Austin implemented this past offseason.

Is Nick Fairley out of the proverbial doghouse? What kind of rotation should the Bills expect to see between he and C.J. Mosley behind Suh?

Yuille: Fairley definitely appears to be out of the doghouse for now. After his weight once again became an issue in training camp, he was demoted to the second-string defense for a few weeks. However, he was back as a starter when the regular season began, and he has finally played up to his potential on a somewhat consistent basis. Injury issues could potentially even up the snaps a bit between Fairley and Mosley this week, but Fairley has established himself as the starter alongside Ndamukong Suh.

Long-term, how much of a concern is the Lions' starting cornerback tandem of Mathis and Slay? How have they performed thus far in 2014?

Yuille: They have exceeded expectations for sure. Rashean Mathis certainly doesn't look like he's 34 years old, and Darius Slay has been much improved compared to his rookie season a year ago. That's not to say that there aren't moments of concern over the secondary, especially with the lack of depth behind Mathis and Slay, but those two have done a pretty solid job so far.

Beyond 2014, there will definitely be a need to start thinking about a replacement for Mathis given his age. The hope is that Slay will have entrenched himself as the Lions' No. 1 cornerback by the time this season is over, leaving only one starting spot up for grabs going into 2015.