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Where Lions stand at each position after final cuts

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Ameer Abdullah

Here's a position-by-position look at the Lions after they reduced their roster to the mandatory 53 players.

Quarterbacks (2)

Matthew Stafford and Dan Orlovsky.

Analysis: Pressure will be on Stafford to play consistently well now that the Lions have surrounded him with plenty of weapons. Orlovsky won the backup job again by outplaying Kellen Moore this summer, but the Lions will continue to hope Stafford, who has made 64 straight starts, remains healthy.

By cutting QB Moore, Lions commit to 2-man crew

Running backs (4)

Joique Bell, Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner.

Analysis: The top three jobs were set when the Lions drafted Abdullah, but Zenner's strong training camp and preseason helped him earn the No. 4 spot over George Winn. Whether or not the Lions trust Zenner on special teams, though, will determine if he's active on game day.

Fullback (1)

Michael Burton.

Analysis: Although Emil Igwenagu turned it into a good competition, Burton became the favorite to earn this job when the Lions drafted him in the fifth round this year. He'll play 10-20 snaps per game as well as the majority of special teams plays.

Golden Tate

Wide receivers (5)

Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Corey Fuller, Lance Moore and TJ Jones.

Analysis: With Jordy Nelson injured, Johnson and Tate appear to be the NFL's top receiving duo entering the season. Questions remain behind them, though. Fuller has the physical tools to be a deep threat, but has to prove he can make contested catches. Moore had a strong summer and Jones could be a good backup return man, but it's unclear whether one or both of them will be active. Jeremy Ross and Greg Salas didn't do quite enough this summer to make it.

TJ Jones' sure-handed ways enabled him to stick with Lions

Tight ends (3)

Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew and Tim Wright.

Analysis: Ebron has looked like the playmaker the Lions expected this offseason and will likely be the No. 3 target in the passing game. Pettigrew had a good summer, too, and could be more involved in the pass game than his 15 targets in 2014. Wright's role will likely be red-zone only to start after winning the No. 3 job over Joseph Fauria.

Offensive line (9)

Tackles: Riley Reiff, LaAdrian Waddle, Cornelius Lucas and Corey Robinson. Interior: Larry Warford, Travis Swanson, Laken Tomlinson, Manny Ramirez and Taylor Boggs.

Analysis: Boggs made the team after a really impressive camp and with uncertainty about Warford's status Week 1. Robinson grabbed a spot after the Lions traded Michael Williams to New England. Otherwise, there weren't any surprises with this group that appears to have more potential than last year's line.

Defensive line (10)

Ends: Ezekiel Ansah, Jason Jones, Darryl Tapp, Devin Taylor and Phillip Hunt. Tackles: Haloti Ngata, Tyrunn Walker, Caraun Reid, Gabe Wright and Jermelle Cudjo.

Analysis: The initial 53-man roster Saturday had just nine, but the Lions re-signed Cudjo Sunday after placing cornerback Alex Carter on injured reserve with designation for return. Cudjo is a rotational option. Hunt forced his way onto the roster in a fashion similar to George Johnson last year, and his speed should help him contribute on special teams. The Lions parted with 2014 fourth-round pick Larry Webster, who struggled in camp.

Brandon Copeland

Linebackers (7)

Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy, Tahir Whitehead, Kyle Van Noy, Travis Lewis, Josh Bynes and Brandon Copeland.

Analysis: This is likely the strongest unit on the team from top to bottom. Copeland made it over Julian Stanford and should be active for special teams contributions, and he could earn some snaps at defensive end, too. Otherwise, the top six has been set since the start of the offseason.

Defensive backs (9)

Safeties: Glover Quin, James Ihedigbo, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Don Carey. Cornerbacks: Darius Slay, Rashean Mathis, Josh Wilson, Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs.

Analysis: This group initially had 10 Saturday, but rookie cornerback Alex Carter is going on injured reserve with designation for return and will miss at least the first eight games. Otherwise, this position didn't have any surprises as the backup safeties are more reliable now on special teams than rookies Isaiah Johnson and Brian Suite. Crezdon Butler was the last cornerback cut. Wilson will likely be the nickel, but can play outside, too.

Specialists (3)

Kicker: Matt Prater. Punter: Sam Martin. Long snapper: Don Muhlbach.

Analysis: No changes here on cut day, but the Lions will be a lot more confident in the kicking game to start 2015 than they were last year.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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