Zenner among 10 Lions on the bubble

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Lions coach Jim Caldwell told a story Tuesday about his time coaching the Colts to explain the importance of the exhibition finale for players on the bubble.

Although Caldwell’s details from 2010 weren’t precise, the theme was that one stellar performance can change the minds of coaches and executives.

Wide receiver Blair White, an undrafted rookie from Michigan State, had seven catches for 132 yards in the Colts fourth exhibition that year. That helped him secure a spot on the practice squad, and after some injuries, he found himself on the 53-man roster for Week 3 — and beyond.

“He helped us win probably two games,” Caldwell said. “This guy stepped in and played a great role, but it didn’t happen until the last preseason game because he finally got an opportunity to get in there in an extended period of time and show what he can do.”

The Lions must trim their roster from 75 to 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday, so for players on the bubble, tonight’s exhibition against the Bills is the last chance to earn a spot.

LIONS ON THE BUBBLE:

Zach Zenner, RB

Zenner should be a lock as he leads the NFL with 162 yards through three exhibitions. He also has 60 receiving yards, two touchdowns and has shown improvement on special teams. The undrafted rookie’s spot won’t be 100 percent safe until Saturday.

George Winn, RB

Winn is on the bubble despite being a solid special teams contributor and a power-running option and pass blocker behind Joique Bell. With 26 yards, Winn could use a strong performance.

Phillip Hunt, DE

Hunt has been consistent — three tackles, two quarterback hits. His 6-foot-1, 258-pound frame makes him stand out among the Lions defensive ends, but his combination of speed and power gives him a great chance to make the team.

Corey Wootton, DE

No other defensive lineman has stuffed the stat sheet as much as Wootton — seven tackles, one for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Although he didn’t stand out during camp, another strong game could keep him around.

Brandon Copeland, LB

With Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy, Tahir Whitehead, Travis Lewis, Kyle Van Noy and Josh Bynes looking like locks, Copeland or Julian Stanford must convince the Lions to keep a seventh linebacker. Copeland has made some nice plays on special teams.

Jermelle Cudjo, DT

Cudjo’s spot could depend on whether Caraun Reid will be available Week 1. Cudjo he played well enough to be the No. 5 defensive tackle if the Lions keep that many. He has six tackles, three for loss, one sack and a fumble recovery.

Taylor Boggs, OL

Boggs should be a lock if Larry Warford is in danger of missing Week 1. Boggs can play all three interior positions, is technically sound and dominated most of his one-on-one matchups during camp.

Jeremy Ross, WR

He should have opportunities in the return game and offense. Although Ameer Abdullah likely will be the returner, Ross has value as a backup and elsewhere on special teams. Plus, he knows the system.

Greg Salas, WR

Salas has eight catches for 117 yards, but three for 25 the past two games. If the Lions want an outside receiver as the No. 5 option, Salas would be the guy, but he needs another big game.

Kellen Moore, QB

With so many other bubble players playing well, Moore could be a victim of the numbers game if the Lions go with two quarterbacks (Matthew Stafford and Dan Orlovsky). Moore is 13-for-25 for 104 yards and an INT. The practice squad might be his destination.