Lions vs. Jets: 10 things to watch in preseason opener

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Here are 10 things I will be keeping a close eye on in the Detroit Lions' preseason opener against the New York Jets.

The Detroit Lions open their 2013 preseason schedule on Friday night at home against the New York Jets. Here are 10 things I'm looking forward to seeing:

1. Kellen Moore vs. Thaddeus Lewis

After Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill are done, it'll be time for Kellen Moore and Thaddeus Lewis to enter the game. While this position battle is far from the most important for the Lions, I'm interested to see how Moore and Lewis perform. I want to see how much Moore has progressed from last season, just as I want to see if Lewis has a real chance to make the 53-man roster.

2. Can Joique Bell overtake Mikel Leshoure?

Mikel Leshoure is listed ahead of Joique Bell at running back on the Lions' unofficial depth chart. That doesn't necessarily mean a whole lot, though, especially considering the Lions' rotation at running back may ultimately depend on the in-game situation more than anything. However, I want to see if Bell can continue his strong play from last season and if Leshoure has improved at all in his second year back from his Achilles injury.

3. Who steps up at wide receiver?

Patrick Edwards seems to be separating himself from the rest of the pack for the No. 4 spot on the Lions' depth chart at wide receiver. That could change with a rough performance on Friday, though. On the flip side, he could solidify his status in the two-deep with a strong performance. Kris Durham, Chaz Schilens, Corey Fuller, Mike Thomas, Matt Willis, Micheal Spurlock, Terrence Austin and Cody Wilson could all use strong performances as well as they look to make the 53-man roster.

4. Can Joseph Fauria make a case to be on the 53-man roster?

As fans, we sometimes can overvalue certain undrafted free agents. Wide receiver Demario Ballard a couple years ago is the perfect example of this type of thing, and this year, tight end Joseph Fauria is the biggest fan favorite because of his great size. He certainly seems to be more talented than Ballard, but it remains to be seen if he actually has enough talent to make the 53-man roster. That's why I can't wait to see how he performs in an actual game. His performance on Friday and in the other preseason games will play a big part in what the Lions end up doing with him.

5. How will the offensive line hold up?

Friday will be the first game the Lions play with their new offensive line. Will Riley Reiff be able to protect Matthew Stafford? Did Dominic Raiola's weight gain serve him well? Is Dylan Gandy really the answer at right guard? Should Jason Fox or Corey Hilliard start at right tackle going forward? These questions surround the O-line going into the Jets game.

6. Ziggy Ansah's debut

It can be tough to get a great read on how a defensive end is performing in practice when he is new to the NFL. In Ziggy Ansah's case, that's especially true considering he's still relatively new to the game of football. He hasn't been dominating the Lions' tackles on a daily basis, but he hasn't been getting dominated, either. I can't wait to see what he's able to do in an actual game against another team. I'm really hoping for a Senior Bowl type of performance where he just takes things to another level on game day.

7. How much damage will Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley do?

Unlike Ansah, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley have seemingly been dominating the offensive line quite a bit during practice. Perhaps that is a cause for concern for the O-line, but I tend to think it says more about the progress Suh and Fairley have made. Friday will provide a different test with Suh and Fairley getting to go up against Stephen Peterman and the Jets' other offensive linemen, and my expectations are quite high for them going into this game.

8. Bill Bentley's progress

During last year's preseason, Bill Bentley flashed a lot of potential before suffering an injury that eventually ended his season. So far in training camp, Bentley has been praised quite a bit for his play as the Lions' nickelback. I want to see if this translates to an actual game.

9. Return game

The Lions need to find a new returner, and they have several guys in the mix. Micheal Spurlock, Mike Thomas, Steven Miller and Patrick Edwards are just some of the candidates to take over as the man on kick and punt returns, and roster spots could depend on what these guys are able to do with the ball in their hands on special teams.

10. Kickalicious

Last but not least, I can't wait to see Havard Rugland kick in an actual game. I really hope he gets a chance to kick a couple field goals on Friday night, as he needs all the in-game experience he can get.

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