The final round of roster cuts will commence later this week, meaning the Detroit Lions' roster will soon be down to 53 players. Here are five storylines I will be keeping an eye on as the roster cuts take place:
1. Will the Lions keep a return specialist?
Nobody has really had much of a chance to emerge as the Lions' return specialist simply because opportunities have been so limited. As a result, Steven Miller, Micheal Spurlock and Patrick Edwards all appear to still be in the mix for this role. If Edwards makes the team as the Lions' fourth wide receiver, would the Lions really need to keep Miller or Spurlock when their main contributions would simply be on special teams? I say no, as I just don't think there's room for a return specialist with the current make-up of the roster.
2. Five wide receivers or four tight ends?
Assuming the Lions don't go with a return specialist, the final spot on offense could come down to having a fifth receiver (Matt Willis, perhaps?) or a fourth tight end (likely Joseph Fauria). Even before Michael Williams broke his hand, it seemed like the possibility of the Lions keeping four tight ends was going up. Especially with Williams getting hurt, I tend to think that Fauria will make the team because he's got more potential to contribute offensively than someone like Willis.
Of all the position groups, this one is really the hardest for me to predict. We know Sims, Raiola and Warford are going to make the team, but the other two interior spots on the O-line are still up in the air. The Lions could opt to once again keep the versatile Dylan Gandy, and perhaps they will keep Rodney Austin, who is young and seems to have a lot of upside. Jake Scott has looked good as of late, as has Leroy Harris, who is also versatile. I just am not sure which two of Gandy, Austin, Scott and Harris will be kept around.
4. Which defensive backs will make the team?
It's a pretty safe bet that Chris Houston, Darius Slay, Bill Bentley, Jonte Green, Glover Quin, Louis Delmas and Don Carey will make the 53-man roster. Assuming the Lions keep 10 defensive backs this year, that leaves three spots open. I'm expecting one of them to go to special teams ace John Wendling, and Rashean Mathis seems to have played his way on to the roster thanks to his ability to play cornerback and safety. Will that final spot go to Ron Bartell, who opened training camp as a starter? Will the Lions decide to really beef up their special teams coverage and keep Tyrell Johnson? Could Amari Spievey still make the team? The Lions have some interesting decisions to make with the secondary.
5. Will the Lions add anybody after the final round of cuts takes place?
Last year, the Lions added cornerback Drayton Florence following the final round of cuts. This year, it seems like they want to add a wide receiver. It's entirely possible that a move to bring in a wide receiver could come before the final round of cuts even takes place, but if not, it will be worth keeping an eye on which receivers are let go around the league. Detroit could use an upgrade over Edwards and Willis, and if anybody new is going to be added, chances are the Lions will go after a wide receiver.