Another one in the books — along with round 1 of the roster cuts. I’ll start with the cuts, and then move into my thoughts on the Colts-Lions preseason game 3. The first five bubble players to go shouldn’t really be any surprise –
- Francious, LB: recently signed camp body who really didn’t have a shot
- Kees, DE: Considering the lack of depth at DE, that the Lions moved IAF and Flu at times to end tells you how much/little he showed in camp. He may be a practice squad candidate, however.
- Demir Boldin, WR: Considering how none of the tranche of wideouts competing really distanced themselves, this also does not come as a shock as he was (obviously) out of the running.
- Dexter Wynn, CB: He was injured a couple of weeks back, and placed on IR to free up a spot to get down to 75. He showed enough to bring back as a body for OTA’s, and possibly camp next year.
- Lamarcus Hicks, S: The first casualty in the secondary, after his poor showing when he got his chances to start in the preseason, this also is a cut that appeared inevitable. They gave him ample opportunity to play his way onto the roster, and he wasn’t able to capitalize. This also means you’re looking at Delmas, Pearson, Schweigert, and Manuel as your 4 safeties on the roster. Hicks ended up as the odd man out.
Once again, I will just be listing out the thoughts/impressions that I felt compelled to write down while I was enjoying the game. This was, of course, the “dress rehearsal” for both teams heading into the season. Both teams (even the Colts) did basic game planning for this match up, and played their starters for the entire first half. Indy was down Sanders, and one – two more defenders. The Lions were without both starting CB’s against Manning, so I’d pair that off as an even trade up.
- Kevin Smith: I’m glad I kept him in my Fantasy Dynasty League. Oh yeah, he looked great where it counted in the game too — breaking tackles, finding holes and turning it upfield right away to churn out chunks of yardage at a time, and as an excellent WR out of the backfield, especially on the screen plays, and safety valve comeback routes. His blocking and blitz pickup were right on. Ladies and gentlemen, while Brown and Felton(speed, and steamroller) will make great complimentary backs the Lions have their true feature back in Smith.
- Speaking of screens — I had to pause the tape in disbelief as I again saw the Lions perfectly execute another couple of screen passes early. They may have fizzled a bit later as Indy expected them, but it still slowed the pass rush down as the rushers had to think about something other than smashing the QB. I loved Linehan’s playcalling all night, and it was true balance the Lions have lacked in forever.
- Unfortunately, the only thing stopping the Lions’ offense was itself — with just plain dumb penalties that killed at least one scoring drive in the first half.
- The Olinelooked great creating lanes for Kevin Smith in the first half against Indy’s starting defense. The Time of Possession in the first half for Detroit was just insane. It kept Peyton Manning and Co. off the field. They also gave the Lions’ QB’s lots of time to throw back there in the pocket. (Yes, I used “Lions Oline” and “Created a nice Pocket for the Passer” as non-mutually exclusive items in the same sentence)
- Don’t know who the S was on that pass int call on William James but it was pretty obvious he was supposed to have help over the top. He also made an attempt to get his head around and make a play on the ball — until they started emphasizing the “face guarding” rules last season or so that would not have been called interference. It was better than backing off and letting the sure TD pass though.
- Concerning the Lions allowed both short-yardage situations by Indy to result in a TD, while not punching it in themselves. Oline needs to work on that aspect still.
- The Lions, unlike last week, looked just as prepared as the Colts and were tough and gritty all night long. Noticed the Lions new logos on the helmets — rather than defining Bubbles, the white accents seemed to make the Lions look like their uniforms were dinged up and dented from use. It did, however, fit them for some reason vs Indy.
- Anyone else notice that Jerome Felton always seems to just run over the first opponent to him, and that the other guys seem to think twice before making contact? Love that punishment. He will be good when used withT. Smith to beat up defenses and give 34K a breather.
- Defense seemed better at stopping the run with anyone other than Darby in there.
- 2 Questions: How long until Hanson is back, and can Dane Looker do kick-offs? Hopefully even he would do better than Cundiff was. I’m hoping that was rust showing. And really hoping Hanson gets well SOON. Is it too soon to say I miss Waters?
- The defense had a great stop of Indy’s #1 offense heading into the 2 min warning. IF they could that consistently, they would be a top defense. IF.
- Pettigrew didn’t look like he missed most of camp. He was mauling DE’s and dropping perfectly into the seam, getting open, and making the catch. I was impressed.
- Brown showed some good stuff, and also showed he still has a LOT to learn (like going the wrong way and causing a sack – for about the third time this preseason). He is still a situational back, but I will say I am much more comfortable when he is back returning — whether KOR or PR than I am when Williams is back there. A disaster waiting to happen on PR! Give me Cason back quick — at least he can CATCH the punts. (only being half sarcastic there)
- Williams did indeed, however, make a much stronger case by his improved showing at WR. If his return skills were improving on par with his receiving skills, the Lions would be looking at a steal in round three. But he’s not. He also wasn’t doing real well on his downfield blocking on run plays.
- Speaking of that, it is downfield blocking by WR that leads to big runs, and Standeford appeared to be doing quite well in there area, as well as seeming to have founds his hands in his locker since that Cleveland game, once again showing his progress as a strong possession WR. Still a stretch for him to make the roster though.
- IAF looked better inside, and Flu was holding the run-stopping point well at DE. He just needs to get more push toward the QB.
- Levy is going to be the 3rd rounder that people will forget hating as time goes by in Detroit. He was all over the field, batting passes, making tackles, and creating havoc. It was great and given a season or two to develop with rotational time he could be a stellar young presence for the Lions at any of the three LB spots.
- While on the subject of scorned LB picks, did anyone else need to be told Jordan Dizon was on the field in place of Ernie Sims? I mean, after the game started because there wasn’t a lot of difference — other than fewer missed tackles. Dizon too may still have a spot on this team…
- Gronk made the Lions’ roster, or someone else’s if the Lions actually try to slide him onto the practice squad. Good blocker, and good hands. 7th round steal to back-up the TE position and rotate in given how many two TE sets Linehan uses.
- Fitzsimmons is likely gone, unless the Lions keep fewere linemen or WR than I expect…which isn’t likely considering how much OG Ramierez has been progressing this season.
- That was a great route and catch by Standeford across the back of the endzone on the 2 point conversion. He really helped his cause with that series.
- Drew Stanton solidified his spot as a viable #2 QB of the future candidate.
That’s all for my initial thoughts… As I iterated last week, I felt the team would be much more focused even with basic gameplanning, and they certainly were. I can’t wait to see what Linehan and Guenther come up with for the regular season — since, unlike 2008, I am sure the Lions aren’t showing everything in preseason.
Tags: Aaron Brown, Andre Fluellen, Casey Fitzsimmons, Chuck Darby, Dan Gronkowski, Daunte Culpepper, Deondre Levy, Detroit Lions 2009 Preseason, Detroit Lions News, Dexter Wynn, Ernie Sims, IAF, Jerome Felton, John Standeford, Jordan Dizon, Kevin Smith, Matthew Stafford, Ryan Kees