Despite losing 27-23 to the Atlanta Falcons, there was a lot to like about this young Detroit Lions squad in their first matchup of the preseason.
The final scores of preseason games are nothing to get too hung up on. Instead, we look to which players shined and how those players were used on the field.
The Lions have two more preseason games to play, but the first game already gave us a preview of what their depth chart may look like. If the season were to start today, here’s how the offense of their 53-man roster might shape out:
In: Jared Goff, David Blough
Out: Tim Boyle
Theres no question that Goff will be the day-one starter for the Lions. What is still yet to be answered is who will back him up and how many quarterbacks the team might keep.
The jury’s still out on whether the team will keep two or three quarterbacks this season , but Blough’s performance on Friday surely didn’t hurt his case for being the next best option behind Goff.
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) August 13, 2022
Running back (5)
In: D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Craig Reynolds, Jermar Jefferson, Jason Cabinda (FB)
Out: Godwin Igwebuike, Justin Jackson
IR: Greg Bell
There’s realistically only one spot open and that is the fourth running back option. As of now, 2021 seventh-round pick Jermar Jefferson seems to have a hold on that spot over Igwebuike and Jackson.
All told, none of the three had spectacular outings against Atlanta, but Jefferson did take the field earlier than the other two, which may signal that he has surpassed them on the depth chart.
Igwebuike’s roster spot was greatly attributed to his special teams abilities. Between adding more competition for the return specialists and his fumbling issue last season, his job is now in jeopardy. He could be a candidate for the practice squad if he is not picked up by another team.
Cabinda is currently on the PUP list but should claim a roster spot once he’s activated.
Wide receiver (6)
In: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, DJ Chark, Kalif Raymond, Trinity Benson, Tom Kennedy
Out: Quintez Cephus, Kalil Pimpleton, Josh Johnson, Maurice Alexander
NFI: Jameson Williams
There’s little doubt that Dan Campbell and his staff would keep all of these players on the roster if they could.
Against Atlanta, Tom Kennedy was both Boyle and Blough’s go-to guy and racked up eight receptions for 104 yards in the process. Simply being healthy and available gives him priority over Quintez Cephus, who did not play in Friday’s preseason game.
Check out all of Tom Kennedy’s catches against Atlanta
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) August 13, 2022
Trinity Benson has done just enough to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster. He seems to have the edge over Igwebuike in the aforementioned kick return completion and had an impressive 24-yard catch against Atlanta.
The one caveat right now for Kennedy and Benson would be that one of them would likely be cut once first-round pick Jameson Williams is ready to play later in the season.
Tight end (4)
In: T.J. Hockenson, Brock Wright, James Mitchell, Garrett Griffin
Out: Shane Zylstra, Devin Funchess, Derrick Deese, Nolan Givan
Hockenson, Wright, and Mitchell appear to be locks for the roster at this point and it seems likely that this team lead by former NFL tight end Dan Campbell would be inclined to keep one more man at that position.
As of now, it’s a toss-up for that fourth spot, but Griffin seems to have a slight advantage over the others in the group. Griffin only had one catch for 11 yards against the Falcons but is versatile as he can be used as an in-line blocker, receiver, and fullback.
Zylstra and Funchess would be his top competition for that final spot. Zylstra has had an impressive camp and his skills as a blocker have started to show in his second year. Funchess had an outstanding showing during Friday’s game but simply hasn’t done enough in camp to warrant a place on the roster.
Offensive line (8)
In: Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Penei Sewell, Evan Brown, Matt Nelson, Tommy Kraemer
Out: Logan Stenberg, Dan Skipper, Obinna Eze, Kevin Jarvis, Ryan McCollum, Kendall Lamm, Darrin Paulo
There is no dispute over who the starting five linemen are for the Lions. Behind them, Evan Brown is the primary backup at center and both guard spots. The Lions will likely keep eight lineman like they did last season, which leaves two open backup roles.
At tackle, Matt Nelson has a leg up despite not having his best game against Atlanta. It’s not that he is the best option for Detroit, but more that the other tackles on the roster bubble struggled even more. Eze and Lamm both looked lost throughout their time on the field and struggled to keep up with the Falcons’ backup defenders.
Tommy Kraemer is getting the nod as the final lineman on the roster partially due to his successes last season. Kraemer started at guard for three games in 2021 and proved serviceable enough to stick around. Stenberg simply hasn’t proven himself over the last two seasons and this offseason hasn’t helped his case much.