The Detroit Lions closed out their last preseason game on Sunday with a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-9. Dan Campbell played his starters for a majority of the first half of the game.
This game had a lot riding on it for a lot of players on the bubble of making the official 53-man roster. Dan Campbell had expressed the week before the game that there were still about 8 to 10 spots still in flux. The deadline for cuts is 4pm on Tuesday August 30th.
While this game didn’t go as expected for the Lions, a lot was learned from the result. Here are a few takeaways:
The Fight for the Lions Back Up QB Position
The most obvious battle for position on this team in yesterday’s game was the back up quarterback position. Both Tim Boyle and David Blough struggled against the Steelers’ defense. Boyle got the start, he was quickly replaced by Blough in the 2nd quarter. The two went back and forth eventually ending the game with Blough in as QB. Neither quarterback looked very strong in the pocket. Dan Campbell commented on this position in the post-game press conference. Nonetheless, Campbell said had clarity on the situation but he did not elaborate. This could mean one of two things: Blough secured the spot. Or the backup quarterback is not currently on our roster. That would mean, Detroit needs to start looking outside of this roster immediately.
Justin Jackson Makes His Case
Justin Jackson had a phenomenal game yesterday. He had 8 carries for a team-high of 44 yards, 2 catches for 39 yards, and two returns for 53 yards. He even showed out and had an impressive hurdle over one of the Steelers players to gain extra yards. Jackson has performed very well during camp. He was on the bubble going into this game, I don’t think there is any question that he is deserving of a roster spot now.
After a neck and neck competition for the starting corner position between Will Harris and Jeff Okudah, Okudah comes out on top. In a post-game press conference Dan Campbell confirmed that Okudah would have the starting spot. Okudah has had a rocky start to his NFL career. His rookie season he suffered a season-ending groin injury. His second year he suffered an Achilles injury in week 1. He has looked promising in training camp and had a great game in this final preseason game including a play where he blocked a pass to deny a touchdown. Okudah will start on the opposite side of Amani Oruwariye.
Defending the Den
The Detroit Lions’ first-team defense played a solid first half. Detroit allowed 59 yards and let up 9 points from 3 field goals. Two of those FG’s were set-up by turnovers from the Lions’ offense. However; Aidan Hutchinson, Tracy Walker and Charles Harris all recorded sacks, while DeShon Elliot and Jeff Okudah also had several tackles on the day. The reserves, on the other hand, didn’t have the best showing against the Steelers offensive starters. They allowed a 92-yard drive in just one minute and 20 seconds resulting in a Steelers touchdown. One highlight from the second half was a blocked field goal by defensive lineman Austin Bryant.
Reynolds Plays into the 4th Quarter for Lions
Lions’ speculative favorite for the number 3 RB role, Craig Reynolds, played into the 4th quarter of the game on Sunday. While roster spots have not been confirmed, it was interesting to see him playing so late in the game on both offense and on special teams. Reynolds had 6 carries for 31 yards and two catches for a gain of 13 yards. In addition, he added two returns for a total of 27 yards.
Today, Dan Campbell said no roster moves have happened. He added that all positions are available and they are not opposed to looking outside of the building if they think they can upgrade what they already have.
Maddy Miller – Lions Beat Reporter