Following Tuesday's Detroit Lions practice, head coach Jim Schwartz talked quite a bit about the upcoming roster cuts the team will be making. He provided insight into the process for determining the 53-man roster. Also, he provided some insight into other topics, such as injuries, the preseason finale and the trade for Kevin Barnes. Via the Lions, you can check out his quotes below.
On what he is looking for in a receiver to secure a roster spot: "Just everything that goes into being a wide receiver. There's explosive ability, ability to make a play, sure-handed, assignment-sound, ability to play special teams - we're looking at all those things."
On whether he has decided to keep five or six: "No. Until we get to that last 53, nothing's really set in stone. You want to keep your best players. When it gets down to the end having numbers doesn't help you as much as having good players."
On what may make you change your mind to go heavy on one position and light on another: "Good talent; good players. If you're going to keep nine in a position and you have ten Pro Bowlers, well keep them. Go light at a different position. The other thing is: wherever we start during the year, doesn't necessarily mean we'll finish with that. You saw that with our offensive line last year. We started with nine, and then went to eight and we only keep seven actives so there's a lot of different leeway. A couple years ago we kept Willie Young and he was inactive pretty much the whole year. There's a lot of different ways to work your roster when it comes to the end. The main thing is letting talent be the judge; the guys that are talented and the guys that can do the job, finding a way to keep those guys."
On if it's possible for a player to win a roster spot after the final preseason game: "Oh for sure."
On how a player would accomplish that: "Play well. We've had players here that didn't play very much in the first three that came out and played well. For sure there are still decisions to be made and there are still things they can do to solidify their chances of being on the roster. Also, (there's) things they can do to solidify their chances of not being on the roster."
On how many spots are open right now on the roster: "I don't know that we really ever go into it saying that. We don't have a set depth chart. Everything that comes out of us, (media relations) does for us. We don't go in saying, ‘this guy's on the team, this guy's not.' I mean some of them are obvious. I think you guys can figure those out. But you want to keep an open mind and you want to let the player's performance No. 1, (decide) whether he makes the team, No. 2 what kind of playing time he gets. That's a whole body of work; it's not just the one practice or one game or anything else. It's an entire body of work and they need to be able to prove they can contribute not just short term but over the course of the season."
On RB Joique Bell benefiting from RB Mikel Leshoure's two-game suspension: "That helps him from a numbers standpoint for sure. But the one thing that Joique does a really good job of is picking up yards. He's a good running back. He's always been productive in those times. He's been improved in the pass game for us; made a couple nice plays in the pass game. He's even picked up some special teams and some pass protection stuff and that's been one of the things he needed to improve on. He's had a good camp and he's done a good job on all those things."
On assessing S Erik Coleman and S John Wendling: "Both of those guys are pros. They execute the scheme very, very well. They're very good communicators. They're veteran players; they're in the right spots. They make plays that come to them. Both of them are very sure tacklers; both of them have done a really nice job, not just in preseason games, but throughout camp."
On the team having a different tone this year than last year during preseason: "You have to stay in the moment. The only thing that we can do is prepare for Buffalo and play that game. That's the only thing that's on our agenda right now. So I don't know if the team feels differently; maybe you guys do; maybe the fans do; but I don't think the team feels differently. There are goals every single day. Going out to practice hard; going to prepare for the next opponent, going on a little bit of a short week because we played on Saturday and we come back and play on a Thursday. There's a lot of things that go in but we're definitely in the moment with Buffalo Bills."
On CB Kevin Barnes: "First, he's a young veteran. He's got very good size. He's got good straight-line speed. He's got experience and he's also played inside and outside. He can play in the slot; he played a lot of slot for the Redskins last year. We value that kind of multidimensional ability. We also value his size, his speed and the fact that he does have some experience. There's a lot that intrigued us there. We'll see how quick we can get him up to speed; in some packages. He's not going to know everything that we do when we get to Thursday night, but he's going to have enough that he can go out and show if he can help us."
On looking at college scouting reports for a player as young as Barnes: "You always do that but he has a body of work since then; he's been on the field for the Redskins and has played, so pro scouting comes into play there too. You look at preseason games that he's already played; you look at last year's games. Everything gets taken into account, but what he's done since then is probably a little bit more important than what college grade we had on him."
On what the final roster cut process will be like for the Lions staff: "It's always difficult. It comes down to shades of gray on a lot of guys. Some guys have different strengths and different weaknesses and trying to come up with the best 53. It will be some difficult choices and it's always a very difficult time. But if you look historically around the NFL, guys that don't make your team, very significant portion at this point, end up somewhere back revisiting sometime during the season. Whether its practice squad, whether it's an injury replacement; somebody that you cut at the end of camp that already knows your scheme, you see it every single year. There's really not a finish line ever with the 53. There's always going to be injuries and different things like that that you're going to have to adjust to over the course of the season. When we say so long to some of these guys it won't be farewell. Some of these guys will end up helping us somewhere along the line, whether it's practice squad or an active roster."
On his assessment of rookie QB Kellen Moore after three preseason games: "I think he's improved in all the games as far as command of our offense. He's shown he's a smart player. He's done a good job not just in the preseason games; he's done a good job at camp. We thought a lot of him coming out of Boise (State) and he's shown the reason that he was so successful in college."
On WR Titus Young: "He was here. Yeah, he's just rest. A lot of those guys probably came right after you guys were already gone. They were doing some rehab and some running inside."
On T Jeff Backus and T Riley Reiff: "Jeff is a very experienced player. He's been healthy; he's always played at a high level. Not to say that Riley's not; not going to be. But I think we have a lot of confidence in both those guys. I think you can go a lot farther than that; you can go to Corey Hilliard, you can go to Jason Fox and Gosder (Cherilus). We have a very, very good group of tackles. So much so we've even got some of them some guard reps in there too. Just trying to be ready for a lot of different situations and things like that; we have a lot of confidence in all those guys. They're all at different points in their career but they can all help us."
On the factors that determines who will play in the final preseason game: "If guys are healthy they'll play. We may have some situations where we hold guys out that are just healing up to be at 100%, but if guys are 100% and they're healthy they're going to play."
On how long the starters may play: "We'll see."
On bringing in another team to practice against in the preseason: "You can get something out of it. You can also get off track with it. If the opportunity arose we'd consider it but I don't know."