With the ever important third preseason game fast approaching, and the first cut-down only a week away, I decided to wrap up my general observations (due to time contraints) on the 2nd preseaon game, and overall impact on the final roster:
Cody has played OK, but still seems to be imitating the invisible man out there -- he is not making misakes, but he's not really making plays either.
At LB - Lenon, Lewis, Sims and Dizon are locks, while Davis is close. That leaves about 1 spot left open. Gardner has made a couple of nice ST plays, but Canon despite missing on one play, played better while in at LB than Gardner and contributed just a much on ST. Leon Joe is not practice squad eligible, but while he has looked pretty good, he is fighting against more than the LB for a roster spot.
ST coverage units looked great on the whole, and th return unit seemed to be improving outside fo one thing: Finding an electric returner. Cason is OK, I liked what I saw from Midddleton and Moore had a good return, but he hasn't shown enough elsewhere and should make it to the practice squad.
At WR, I'd like to see them find a way to keep Standeford and/or Middleton. Not so sure Middleton will make it to/is eligible for practice squad -- same for Standeford. Part of me, with McDonald and Roy W. having contracts up next year, would like to see them trade McDonald and keep sign one of the younger guys to keep around. Furrey, along with being a great wideout, is also a big contributor on ST and the kind of guy teams need more of.
On Dline, Cohen and Hardie looked pretty good for where they were drafted, but I think both will make it to the practice squad.
At CB, Ramzee Robinson had a heck of a game. A lot of the 2nd/3rd stringers got a chance to play against the Bengals starters/2nd team and Robinson made the most of this playing time showing that he has made progress. He may end up on the practice squad for another year though (I think he has one year of eligibility left.) -- my worry is that with how he is playing, a team like Tampa or Indy will be looking at snatching him off the wire. Cleveland and Dallas are short on CB as well, so I'm a little leery of letting even a halfway decent one go -- he's been showing good progress. Right now, based on in-game performance, I think Robinson has the edge if they keep 5 CB.
Greg Blue has to stay on this roster. His coverage skills are improving some, but on special teams and goal-line or short yardage running situations all he does on the field is consistently make plays. Blue's contract? Not too bad. Stuffing the run on 4th and 1? Priceless
The coaching staff, with how hard the team is playing from top to bottom, will have a hard time when it comes to the first round of cuts, much less the final cut to 53.
Speaking of guys improving, how about Drew Stanton? Is he progressing well or what? He also seems to be just the right type of QB for the new style of the offense the Lions are running. While concentrating on throwing versus running will come with time, he seemed to be a real gamer out there making plays and motivating the offense. There was definitely a zest to his performance out there that looked promising. Another year or two developing behind Kitna (this and next) and the Lions' future at QB doesn't look too bad.
I noticed after reading commentary that a lot of people blasted DanO. While I could see what they were saying, I think the coaches were intentionally pushing DanO out of his comfort zone in the pocket, where he has shown he does very well, and getting him moving around. He is not very good at it -- but isn't that why they had him do it? The idea is to work on things in preseason, not win the game.
At RB, I still see Smith, Pinner, Cason as the top three backs -- but something tells me they still keep Bell around as insurance "just in case"... but after he has run the last couple of weeks, I'm not so sure he is a lock. The zone running is supposed to be his niche, and Smith has been out-running, out-passioning, and out-blocking him. With Felton and Smith held back blocking on a couple of those blitzes, it looked like the Iron Curtain walling off Kitna from the Defense (in the first quarter). Both of those guys will be starting, day 1.
How is that for a novelty -- with Bradley on IR Felton will be the starting FB - a 5th round pick. Speaking of FB -- after the game that he had how do they not keep McHugh as a FB/TE? With Bradley out I'm calling Felton/McHugh at FB.
Great dialogue on the Oline on the last post here, and I suggest everyone read those comments for a good idea of the transition to zone blocking.