Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lions Roster Evolves

Hello all -- had my last Fantasy Draft today (NetRat's League). As many of you know (read comments on last post) the Lions have dropped McHugh and Cannon in favor of RB Marcus Thomas off waivers from the Chargers, and LB Ryan Nece from Tampa Bay.

(The second set of stats is for Thomas in the article linked to above. It is a typo that may or may not be corrected before you read it.)

I was a bit surprised to see Owens stay still -- they must be a lot less sure of Campbell than we think. However, after game one his salary is guaranteed, so I hope they are right about him bouncing back. My thought (and many others) is that Owens will be around til they are sure Campbell is healthy, and then cut for a returner or another RB.

I also saw the practice squad -- very interesting. (it is also in the article above)

They are (this is a very fluid group, so I expect this list to change): LB Darnell Bing, G Matt Butler, RB Allen Ervin, WR Eric Fowler, QB Drew Henson, S LaMarcus Hicks, WR Kenneth Moore and TE Jake Nordin.

Interesting that Henson is there -- likely to help with the Scout Team O until Stanton is back.

At WR - must be something they like about Fowler, and depending on how the return game is going they may bring Moore off the PS to replace Owens when Campbell is fully back -- or more likely sign Middleton or Ellis back as they haven't been signed elsewhere as of yet.

At LB Darnell Bing showed a lot in the preseason, and I'm glad they got him back. S Lamarcus Hicks did OK, and I think he's there to call up as a 4th S if on of the S gets hurt, or a CB gets hurt forcing Pearson, Alexander, or Smith into duty at Nickleback.

Of interest to me were G Matt Butler (who was supposed to be a cross train at C) and RB Allen Ervin. Both were cut fairly early in camp, but both were players that we pegged early on as seeming to have potential. Butler, especially, could see a lot of time at G/C this season, in prep to compete for a backup C spot next ifseason? Who knows.

Also of interest on this latest article is that LB Nece they picked up is trained at all 3 LB spots -- best at SLB and had his best season there, while he also knows the WLB and MLB.

Sadly, Buster Davis was picked up by Indianapolis where he will back-up starter Gary Brackett ahead of Rookie Phillip Wheeler who needs "...more time to develop in what is the hardest position to learn in this defense." Good for him, as he is well suited -- as we discussed -- to be a backup MLB in the T2; unfortunately, the Lions needed a future starter to groom behind and rotate in with the vet Lenon. While I would have liked to see him stay, it would have been at the expense of Cohen -- and the Lions could afford to lose Buster to another team in the long run more than Cohen. With a couple of T2 and other teams short on DT's, including 2 in the division, it was imperative he not hit waivers. Looking at the fact that Indy was eyeing defensive cuts by the Lions should also say a lot about how well they played in the pre-season.

Also picked up was G Frank Davis by the Bengals. They were thin on the Oline after their C was placed on IR (funny enough, he got the injury against Detroit).

I think that the Lions roster will continue to evolve and change. When the first roster was released, it didn't have that usual feel of "good enough" that we've grown so accustomed to as Lions fans. Definitely I will be taking a longer look at the position groups, but as looking at Rudi shows -- the Lions are not done yet. I'd be surprised to see a signing before the first game, as then the salary would be guaranteed and I'm not sure where the Lions would find the cap space. It will be interesting to see where the Lions go next.

Marinelli says that it all starts up front with the Line in the DD (Detroit Deuce). In keeping 11 Dlinemen, he is certainly sticking to his guns. Pray Sims stays healthy. Gardner-Lenon-Lewis is not a LB unit I ever want to see on the field unless the team is leading by more than 34 points in the 4th. And not even then.

Did anyone over on the West Coast or anywhere get a chance to see the new RB Thomas in the preseason? It is obvious the Lions had their eye on a RB or two they expected to get cut when they made their own cuts, and I'm curious to how he looked.


JJLions20 said...

Interesting pick-ups. With Nece you get a special team player with position flexibility as a LB. He was obviously more experienced than Cannon in the cover-2. Nece is 3 inches taller than Cannon, that helps in coverage, and the ability to play the WLB and the SLB.

We talked a lot about position flexibility prior to the draft, well Marinelli and Barry are still building this team with position flexibility in the reserves. Position flexibility cost Cannon and Davis a spot on this team. Look at the lions LB, other than Sims and Dizon... Lennon MLB & SLB, Lewis SLB & WLB, Gardner SLB & WLB, now Nece SLB & WLB. Nece also brings 6 years of cover-2 experience. It also sounds from what I read that he has become a locker room leader. Lets see what he can do on special teams, because other than an injury that would force him into playing LB, most of his playing time will be on special teams.

For those that start sounding off about this just being another Tampa Bay cast off, well first look at this article from October 2007.
Tampa’s special teams were ranked #4 in the NFL. Look who was mentioned leading the team in special team tackles. The Lions stole two of the best special team players (Pearson & Nece) from a top ranked special team unit.

Thomas looks to me to be a developmental back. He sounds like Kevin Smith. Runs a little upright, his size (6-2, 215) is close to Smith (6-1, 217), Good vision, not great speed, but deceptive speed. I look for the Lions to bulk this guy up a little to 225-230, and make him a red-zone rb with Felton. He could become a FB/RB if he really is a physical blocker. Once again look at position flexibility. Later in 2008 or atleast in 2009, Bell could be gone. You could have Smith at HB, Felton FB/HB, Thomas HB/FB. This opens up a roster spot for speedy 3rd down HB/KR.

What surprises me about this pick-up is he doesn't doesn’t address the KR position right now.

Isphet said...

Thomas looks like an interesting pickup. He's a little bit of a gamble. He gained 1,000 yards rushing his senior year on a team that looks like it got blown out in most games, and had over 200 yards against SMU in this game here:

Not very many highlights of him in that video though. One thing you'll notice is that he appears to be good at pass protection. I also noticed that in his 4 year career, he never fumbled once. He seems to also have accumulated a good number of receiving yards as well.

Seems like a solid enough guy to take a chance on. The Lions may have had him targeted in the draft, but he was drafted as the final pick in the 5th round, after they took Felton, so I don't think someone swiped him away from them (seeing as how they took Felton and also took a flyer on Moore before this guy was taken.)

Regarding the Nece pickup; it makes sense to me that the Lions keep picking up these average (not superstar) Tampa guys from Tampa. I'd rather have average dudes that know how to play the defense than average dudes that are still learning the defense (Nece for Cannon was an upgrade, even if Cannon has a cool football name.)

I've started calling the Lions' defense the "Tampa Too."

Todd said...

The Colts signed Buster Davis. A little dissapointing but obviously our coaching staff knows more than we do and they were comfortable where we were at with the rest of the group. Interesting on the Colts website Buster Davis is listed as a LLB not the middle. He is also the 7th linebacker on their roster.

Anonymous said...

The Detroit Duece is alive and well. It also sounds like Rudi may have signed in Allen Park today after a tryout.