The Lions bested another preseason foe to move to 2-0 on the exhibition slate. What does it mean, if anything? The Detroit News team breaks it down.
Detroit — Here’s a quick look at who is trending up and who is trending down after the Lions’ 16-6 preseason victory over the New York Jets on Saturday:
STOCK UP: Akeem Spence
While the Lions continue to deal with depth concerns at defensive end, the defensive tackle rotation is shaping up nicely. Behind the potent starting pairing of A’Shawn Robinson and Haloti Ngata, the backups are looking more than adequate.
Spence, largely seen as an underwhelming free-agent addition, has thrived during his early transition to Detroit’s attacking front. He showed impressive burst off the line of scrimmage, tallying a sack on his first play in the game. On his second snap, he beat two Jets blockers to make a run stop. After the game, Lions coach Jim Caldwell called the 6-foot-1, 307-pound tackle a “whirling dervish.”
STOCK DOWN: Jake Rudock
After an impressive preseason debut against the Colts, Rudock had an eye-opening experience having to deal with the Jets’ imposing pass rush. Rudock didn’t handle the pressure all that well, including an interception on a rushed throw.
It wasn’t a great showing, but it should be a valuable learning experience. The cerebral, young backup is certain to learn from it when watching the film.
TREADING WATER: Jace Billingsley
Billingsley had a spectacular play, breaking a tackle, then making a second defender miss to pick up a first down. A few plays later, facing a third-and-10, he broke free on a crossing route for an 11-yard pickup. But there was also a drop on a pass that hit him in the hands and he got flagged for a false start on third down, helping kill a drive.
STOCK UP: T.J. Lang
Stating the obvious, it was good news Lang was even in the lineup. He had practiced just once in the week and a half leading up to this game as the Lions continue to take extreme precaution with the veteran lineman coming off hip surgery.
But not only did Lang play, he didn’t show any signs of rust, particularly in pass protection, where the Jets had little success against him.
STOCK DOWN: Joe Dahl
Once Dahl entered the lineup, replacing Lang after the third offensive series, the line started struggling with its ability to protect the quarterback. It certainly doesn’t all fall on Dahl, but his underwhelming performance is a continuation of his recent work on the practice field.
STOCK UP: Keshawn Martin
Martin’s 43-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter helped get the Lions into field-goal position to seal the win. He also had a 22-yard punt return earlier in the quarter. Those came against second- and third-team special teams groupings, but still represented the most-dynamic returns the Lions have gotten in their two preseason games.
TREADING WATER: Kenny Golladay
If you tuned in Saturday night, you were probably expecting another electric performance from the rookie, but were treated to a single target resulting in a 6-yard gain. More than anything, this game serves as a reminder that the third-round pick isn’t going to immediately become the team’s No. 1 receiver.
STOCK UP: Steve Longa
Special teams is going to be an important part of the equation if Longa is going to sneak onto the Lions’ roster, and he was impressive in that department against the Jets, outracing every teammate down the field on multiple kickoffs. He did find himself offside on one, but made up for it with a tackle for loss on defense.
STOCK DOWN: TJ Jones
Jones got the first crack at punt returns and looked OK, and he caught the only pass his direction, but his stock is down because he got hit with the injury bug, a strained hamstring, when he could least afford it.
Jones has done everything right this camp. He put on significant muscle mass at the team’s request, and that was supposed to protect him from some of these minor injuries. If he misses significant practice time, he could slip behind other options for receiving roster spots.
STOCK UP: Golden Tate
Marvin Jones had the big gain, with four catches for 34 yards and a touchdown, but not only did Tate haul in a pair of balls for 34 yards, but he had an impressive block in the second level, clearing the way for a sizeable gain for running back Zach Zenner, going around the right edge.
Tate is never going to be a star blocker on the outside, he just doesn’t have the size, but if he can make an occasional impact like this play, it would be a meaningful addition to Detroit’s ground game, where every bit helps.