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Lions vs. Bills: Five things to watch

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions quarterback Jake Rudock is all smiles before hitting the field in Detroit's third exhibition game.

Allen Park – Here are five things to watch when the Detroit Lions host the Buffalo Bills in the preseason finale Thursday night at Ford Field.

ROOKIE QB SHOWCASE

While rookie quarterback Jake Rudock has arguably already done enough to merit a spot on the 53-man roster, this is a showcase contest for the sixth-round draft pick out the University of Michigan. Regardless of what happens, he’s unlikely to take another snap in a game until 2017. A confidence-boosting performance wouldn’t hurt after failing to complete any of his six passes against the Baltimore Ravens last weekend.

ROSTER BATTLES

While many of the roster spots are settled, there are still a handful of jobs that could be won or lost against the Bills. The tightest competition is along the defense line, where Caraun Reid, Stefan Charles, Gabe Wright and Anthony Zettel are all on the bubble. Also, another one of former general manager Martin Mayhew’s final draft picks, cornerback Alex Carter, could use a quality performance to boost his roster odds.

QUICK TURNAROUND

The Lions added a pair of new players to the roster this week in offensive lineman Brandon Thomas and linebacker Jayson DiManche. Thomas, acquired in a trade, expects to get some time at guard, while DiManche, claimed off waivers Tuesday, might be limited to special teams, given his lack of practice time with the squad.

PRACTICE SQUAD HOPEFULS

While the Lions are required to trim the roster to 53 players from 75 this weekend, they’ll be inviting a number of the players back to be a part of the team’s 10-man practice squad. Undrafted rookies Jace Billingsley, Jay Lee and Charles Washington, plus young veterans like Isaiah Johnson and Kerry Hyder could all be making their case for one of these opportunism.

REDUCE MISTAKES

While it won’t matter as much, given the fact most of the team’s starters won’t play in the contest, it would still be beneficial for the Lions trim down on the penalties that have hurt them the past three preseason games. Detroit has been flagged at least eight times in each of those exhibition contests, with multiple infractions occurring in the red zone.

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

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