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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

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Orchard Park, N.Y. – At this point, it should be clear the Detroit Lions see something in Brandon Thomas. And after a Thursday trade, the guard may finally have a path to the final roster.

The Lions sent former first-round pick Laken Tomlinson to the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday, creating an opening to carry an extra offensive lineman on the roster. Thomas, who came from San Francisco in a similar exchange a year ago, is a logical choice.

Acquired just before the start of the 2016 season, Thomas wasn’t immediately needed on the roster, but after clearing waivers, the former third-round pick was quickly added to the practice squad, where he spent the entire year.

Detroit re-signed Thomas to a futures contract after the year, indicating they wanted a full offseason to evaluate the former Clemson tackle. He missed the first week of training camp with an injury, but has come on strong to close the preseason.

More: Justin Rogers’ Lions roster projection 3.0

“It was frustrating, but I knew what I could bring to the table,” Thomas said after Thursday’s game in Buffalo. “I think I got better each and every week, each preseason game. Continuously get better, that’s my mindset. I’m not where I want to be. I can fix a lot of things. But I feel like I can do that later on.”

Despite being three years removed from his draft class, Thomas has never appeared in an NFL regular-season game. He missed his rookie year after suffering a torn ACL leading up to the draft, and never climbed out of the hole on the depth chart in San Francisco once he was healthy.

The Lions’ starting guards are set, with Graham Glasgow and T.J. Lang set to man those spots, but there’s still an opportunity for Thomas to wrestle the top backup job away from 2016 fifth-round pick Joe Dahl.

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Thomas admitted he doesn’t have any clear indication on his roster standing after the Tomlinson trade. He plans to spend Saturday, cut day, trying to relax with his wife and young daughter.

He’s hoping when the decisions are done, he’ll be on the 53-man roster.

“They’re looking to me and hopefully I can help the team,” he said. “I’ve been around all camp, I’ve gotten better each game, so hopefully they’ll look for me to help them out.”

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/Justin_Rogers

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