Monday Notes: Bengals Game Observations

  • Before getting into last night's game, it should be noted that training camp is officially over.  The Lions are off today and will start having only one practice a day when they return to Allen Park.
  • Calvin Johnson is a beast.  He towered over Leon Hall to make a catch to start the game and then got into the endzone by outrunning the Bengals' secondary later on.  I'm starting to realize why Roy Williams picked Johnson for his fantasy team.
  • Through two preseason games, Jon Kitna's quarterback rating is a perfect 158.3.  He has only thrown one incompletion so far this preseason (it was against the Giants) and has 2 touchdowns to go along with 182 yards.  The best pair of stats is that he has 0 interceptions and hasn't been sacked yet, either.
  • Drew Stanton definitely played better than Dan Orlovsky.  Stanton made a great TD pass and then executed a perfect naked bootleg that also resulted in a TD.  Orlovsky didn't play awful, but he certainly could have done better.  Many of his passes were thrown right into coverage, and he just couldn't catch a break when he tried to run a bootleg.  All three times (that I remember) Orlovsky ran a bootleg there was a defender immediately in his face.  He did a nice job of throwing the ball away, at least, as he didn't get a single intentional grounding penalty.
  • Punter Nick Harris has always been an asset for the Lions, and last night he showed us why he is so important.  One of his punts actually rolled out of bounds at the 1-yard line, leaving the Bengals with little room to work with.  Although the punt was outstanding, the defense did let Cincinnati go 99 yards down the field to score a touchdown.  Earlier in the game, Harris had a punt downed at the 2-yard line by Mike Furrey, but Cincy got to start on their own 20 due to Furrey getting a penalty for being the first player to touch the ball after stepping out of bounds.
  • Rookies Kevin Smith and Jerome Felton started last night.  Smith is already looking like the Lions' best running back, and Felton stepped in for an injured Jon Bradley, who didn't play at all against the Bengals.  I guess that means I'll have to revise my next roster prediction as it appears Felton will make the team as the second FB.
  • Tatum Bell has really been disappointing so far this preseason.  He hasn't looked all that impressive, and honestly, Artose Pinner has outperformed him.  I would be surprised if Bell ended up getting cut, but then again, when others are playing better than you, your roster spot shouldn't be locked up.
  • The running game as a whole still isn't coming off as something that will be a strength this season, but it was much better against the Bengals.  Rather than getting stuffed for only a short gain like they did against the Giants, the Lions did move the ball on the ground at some points in last night's game.  Kevin Smith and Artose Pinner played well, and as I said, Tatum Bell still didn't look all that good.  Brian Calhoun didn't do horrible, but he did put the ball on the ground, although Dan Orlovsky did recover the fumble.
  • Rookie Gosder Cherilus played both right and left tackle against the Bengals.
  • Wide receiver Ron Bellamy got a concussion during the game.
  • Although it was assumed that Devale Ellis would be the Lions' 5th wide receiver if they take that many on the 53-man roster, he is getting challenged by Brandon Middleton.  Middleton had a 50-yard TD reception against Cincinnati and tried returning a kickoff.  The very fact that he was back there means that he could take Ellis' spot on the roster as he has versatility.  I don't think it will happen, but a lot could change in the next couple of weeks.
  • Speaking of wide receivers, John Standeford really played well.  He is a big long shot to make the team, but he is making his case on the field.
  • Chad Johnson strained his left shoulder when Brian Kelly ripped the ball out of his hands for an interception.  Johnson left the game and went into the locker room to get x-rays and an MRI (both turned out to be negative).
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