Allen Park – With cuts finalized Saturday, here are some quick thoughts on the Detroit Lions’ 53-man roster.
In: Matthew Stafford, Jake Rudock
Out: Brad Kaaya
Thoughts: This was an easy decision. A third quarterback is one of the worst uses of a roster spot, unless you have a truly exceptional developmental talent you can’t risk putting on waivers. Kaaya might develop into a player capable of taking regular-season snaps some day, but he’s nowhere near ready now. He can grow and learn on the practice squad just as well as he could on the 53-man roster.
In: Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington, Tion Green
Out: Matt Asiata
Thoughts: Few anticipated the Lions keeping five backs, but Green forced the issue with a consistently solid performance on special teams and an exceptional preseason finale, where he flashed his ability as both a ball carrier and pass catcher. It’s a great story, and the more fans hear from Green, the more they’re going to fall in love with him. He’s got infectious enthusiasm.
In: Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, TJ Jones, Kenny Golladay, Jared Abbrederis
Out: Jace Billingsley, Michael Rector, Dontez Ford, Noel Thomas
Thoughts: It was a close competition between Billingsley and Abbrederis all offseason, but the winner of the battle offered more experience, size and versatility.
Billingsley is a fun talent, and has thrived in the preseason environment, making a number of plays in space. But he laid an egg in the final preseason game, including some shaky ball security in the return game, where he had the opportunity to set himself apart.
While Billingsley is limited to playing the slot and operating in the short areas of the field, Abbrederis can line up anywhere and be a threat at all levels. That’s the difference.
Also, kudos to TJ Jones for responding to the team’s criticisms about his weight when he was cut last year. He was rewarded for his commitment in the weight room and diet.
In: Eric Ebron, Darren Fells, Michael Roberts
Out: Cole Wick, Khari Lee, Robert Tonyan, Scott Orndoff
Thoughts: There was some serious debate about whether the Lions would carry a fourth tight end in the absence of a fullback, but the three that made it, if healthy, are sufficient. Ebron is the dynamic pass-catcher who is a matchup problem, Fells is the big-bodied blocker, capable of running routes when needed, and Roberts is a poor man’s hybrid of the two.
The Lions will carry at least one tight end on practice squad, probably Wick, in case the injury bug bites.
In: Greg Robinson, Graham Glasgow, Travis Swanson, T.J. Lang, Rick Wagner, Cornelius Lucas, Corey Robinson, Brandon Thomas, Joe Dahl
Out: Leo Koloamatangi, Storm Norton, Nick Becton
Thoughts: Once the team activated Corey Robinson off the physically unable to perform list, the writing was on the wall for Norton, an undrafted rookie out of Toledo. And when the team traded Laken Tomlinson earlier this week, it cleared room for either Thomas or Koloamatangi to take the spot.
Thomas, a former college tackle, might actually end up being the first interior lineman off the bench, ahead of Joe Dahl.
In: Ziggy Ansah, Cornelius Washington, Anthony Zettel, Jeremiah Valoaga, Alex Barrett, Haloti Ngata, A’Shawn Robinson, Akeem Spence, Jeremiah Ledbetter
Out: Ego Ferguson, Pat O’Connor, Caushaud Lyons, Derrick Lott
Thoughts: This position group remains the most likely to change before next week. Make no mistake about it, Barrett and Valoaga earned these jobs with their offseason performances, but there’s a reason the Lions are carrying two undrafted rookies for what should be one job.
Until Detroit can find a veteran upgrade, the team can mix and match the skill sets of their young edge defenders in an attempt to get what they need out of the unit.
In: Jarrad Davis, Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow, Steve Longa, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Nick Bellore
Out: Antwione Williams, Thurston Armbrister
Thoughts: Williams was undoubtedly the most surprising cut. Yeah, he had some shaky moments in preseason action, but the big bodied, athletic second-year man out of Georgia Southern still offered intriguing potential at the strong side spot, especially as a downhill run stopper.
Instead, the Lions placed a premium on special teams, keeping Longa and the veteran, Bellore. Both have stood out on the coverage units, which is important, since the Lions traded away a key cog from that group on Thursday.
In: Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, Quandre Diggs, D.J. Hayden, Jamal Agnew, Teez Tabor
Out: Johnson Bademosi (traded), Adairius Barnes, Josh Thornton
Thoughts: With a stockpile of corner talent, the Lions found a trading partner in the Patriots, shipping out Bademosi for a sixth-round pick. It’s a good move for all parties, as the Lions get a draft choice and $1.3 million in cap relief, while the Patriots get a proven special teams standout.
D.J. Hayden looked sharp in the preseason and is a more reliable backup than Bademosi, with the versatility to play inside and outside. Agnew isn’t ready to contribute on defense, but is still in conversation to return punts.
This setup also allows the Lions bring Tabor along slowly. He’ll be far more important next year, with Lawson and Hayden set to be free agents after the season.
In: Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson, Miles Killebrew, Don Carey, Charles Washington
Out: Alex Carter, Roland Milligan
Thoughts: Washington played a ton in the preseason, leading the Lions in special teams tackles. He will likely be asked to step in and fill Bademosi’s roles on the unit, particularly as one of the gunners on punt coverage.
Keeping five safeties, for the second-year in a row, also allows the Lions to continue utilizing a number of different nickel looks, without fear of injury forcing the team to abandon the strategy.
In: Kasey Redfern, Matt Prater, Don Muhlbach
Injured: Sam Martin
Thoughts: What did you expect?