The Lions lost to the Bills in a game that mattered only to the guys battling for jobs. Justin Rogers of The Detroit News provides some analysis. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Orchard Park, N.Y. — Here’s a list of Lions players who are trending up and down after the team’s 27-17 preseason loss to the Bills.
Stock up: Tion Green
The fourth game of the preseason is rarely pretty, but Green gave fans something to be excited about. There really isn’t a roster spot for the undrafted rookie running back, but he probably locked himself into a practice squad job, assuming another team doesn’t claim the Cincinnati product off waivers this weekend.
Green did it on the ground and through the air as a receiving target, racking up 150 yards from scrimmage. He was patient behind his blocks and smooth with his cutbacks as a ball carrier, gaining 63 yards on eight carries. But the highlight-reel play came on an ugly-looking screen pass from third-string quarterback Brad Kaaya, which Green took 74 yards to the house in the fourth quarter.
Stock down: Jared Abbrederis
Abbrederis was given every shot to claim the fifth receiver job, as well as an opportunity to make a case for a return job, and coughed it up, literally. Abbrederis caught one pass, which he promptly fumbled over to the Bills.
As a return man, he was OK, but far from spectacular, averaging seven yards on punts and 22.5 yards on kickoffs. Abbrederis’ saving grace is Jace Billingsley, the primary competition for the fifth receiving job, also no-showed. He finished with two catches, for a paltry two yards, while showing shaky ball security as a return man.
Stock down: Antwione Williams
It’s not that Williams played poorly, it’s that he played at all. The Lions rested approximately 30 players for the exhibition finale, but the second-year man out of Georgia Southern was on the field well into the second half, both on defense and special teams.
Williams entered the offseason as the favorite for the starting strong-side linebacker job, and appeared to have it locked down when top challenger Brandon Copeland was lost for the year to injury. But Williams has fallen behind Paul Worrilow on the depth chart late in the preseason and this game all but rubberstamps that Williams will open the year as a backup.
Stock down: Teez Tabor
The Bills picked on Tabor early and the rookie cornerback gave up several receptions. At least he was a consistently strong tackler on those plays, up until running back Jonathan Williams burst into the second level and ran through the arms of Tabor to finish off a 21-yard touchdown run.
Stock up: Nick Bellore
The Lions have five linebackers who are roster locks, and if they keep a sixth, Steve Longa is the most likely option following a well-rounded preseason performance highlighted by strong special teams play. But Bellore, an experienced veteran who played collegiately at Central Michigan, gave the decision-makers something to think about with a team-high eight tackles.
Stock down: Defensive end battle
The kids didn’t shine in the finale. Alex Barrett made a nice run stop, then lined up twice in the neutral zone. Pat O’Connor also tallied a pair of penalties, although it’s tough to dock him for a rather cheap roughing the quarterback call. And Jeremiah Valoaga registered a single tackle and was physically overwhelmed on a double-team, getting blown out of his gap on a long Bills’ run play.
At this point, it would be shocking if the Lions didn’t find a way to add a veteran edge rusher.
Stock up: Derrick Lott
An unknown commodity after signing with the Lions earlier this week, Lott was a force up front, recording seven tackles from the interior of the defensive line, including two behind the line. Who saw that coming? He’s a young player with practice squad eligibility who made as big of a statement as possible, given the situation.