Where Lions position battles stand after Patriots game

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

A review of who the favorites are to win the Detroit Lions' position battles following Thursday's game against the New England Patriots.

With three preseason games in the books, nearly all of the Detroit Lions' position battles have seemingly been decided. Training camp has been underway for nearly a month, and the main part of the preseason is essentially already over. Here's a look at where things stand with each position battle following Thursday night's win:

Third-string quarterback

Kellen Moore has been the Lions' No. 3 quarterback throughout the preseason. With Shaun Hill out on Thursday, Moore actually was Matthew Stafford's backup, and he played quite well, going 9-for-12 for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. Thaddeus Lewis has looked pretty good at times as well, but Moore's spot appears to be safe.

Current favorite: Kellen Moore

No. 4 wide receiver

It's probably a stretch to say one player has stood out and taken hold of the No. 4 spot at wide receiver. The reality is that the wide receivers just haven't done a whole lot in the preseason. However, it's clear at this point that Patrick Edwards is the leader for this spot on the depth chart. He once again stepped in as a starter with Calvin Johnson out on Thursday, and although he only had a single catch for 6 yards, he's the heavy favorite in this position battle.

(Side note: I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the Lions bring in somebody from the outside to fill this spot after the final round of cuts and before the regular season.)

Current favorite: Patrick Edwards

Starting right guard

Larry Warford made his first start for the Lions on Thursday night. Previously, he had been getting reps as the No. 1 right guard on a regular basis. The Lions were slowly bringing him along, and last night they finally pulled the trigger on making him a starter. I can't imagine the Lions will suddenly change their mind following this move, so expect Warford to be in the starting lineup when the regular season opens.

Current favorite: Larry Warford

Starting right tackle

Through the first two preseason games, Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard received a pretty even number of reps. On Thursday night, however, the Lions pretty much made it known that Fox is going to be their starting right tackle. As Jeremy Reisman noted in his piece on the offensive line, Hilliard didn't play right tackle at all on Thursday, whereas Fox was the No. 1 right tackle for seven drives. This position battle appears to be over.

Current favorite: Jason Fox

Starting left outside linebacker

Jim Schwartz essentially ended this particular position battle earlier this week when he declared Ashlee Palmer the leader to start at left outside linebacker. Palmer has clearly been the best player at this position, so it's no surprise that he has basically already won this battle.

Current favorite: Ashlee Palmer

Starting right cornerback

Ron Bartell was benched following a rough performance in Cleveland, making way for rookie Darius Slay to become the starter at right cornerback. Slay definitely hasn't been perfect, but the hope all along was for him to eventually take over this job. Now that he has it, I wouldn't expect the Lions to make a change before the regular season, especially with Bartell now simply fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster.

Current favorite: Darius Slay

Starting kicker

David Akers has been the favorite all along, and although he missed a 31-yard field goal on Thursday, that is still the case. Havard Rugland has provided an interesting story to follow during training camp, but the Lions are going to go with Akers as their starting kicker as long as he's healthy.

Current favorite: David Akers

Starting returner

This is the one spot that is tough to gauge. The Lions had Steven Miller out first to return kicks and punts on Thursday, and Micheal Spurlock later got another chance to be the returner. Will one of them win the return job? Is Patrick Edwards still at the front of the line simply because he has the best chance of making the 53-man roster for his offensive contributions? It's tough to say. I guess at this point I'd still go with Edwards as the favorite, but my confidence is admittedly low in that assessment.

Current favorite: Patrick Edwards

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