clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

10 things to watch in Lions' preseason game vs. Jaguars

Here are 10 things to watch in the Detroit Lions' preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions are set to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at home on Friday night. Here are 10 things to keep an eye on during the game:

1. The return of Megatron

Calvin Johnson is set to make his preseason debut on Friday night. Although he likely won't play as much as the other starters, this will be our first in-game look at Johnson in the Lions' new offensive scheme, and it will be interesting to see how everything comes together with him, Golden Tate and Eric Ebron potentially on the field at the same time.

2. The possible return of Ziggy Ansah

Ansah's status for Friday night is a little less certain, but he could also make his 2014 preseason debut against Jacksonville. He was activated from the PUP list last week, and he's had a decent amount of time to get back up to full speed. Like Johnson, his playing time likely won't be as extensive as the other starters even if he plays, but simply getting Ansah back on the field for game action would be a step in the right direction for him.

3. Nate Freese vs. Giorgio Tavecchio

The Lions are set to rotate their two kickers this week as the battle for the starting job rages on. Tavecchio has seemingly outperformed Freese to this point, but generally speaking, the race for the starting job is pretty even. What happens against Jacksonville could have a big impact on this position battle with roster cuts coming up next week.

4. Special teams, special teams, special teams

With the starters expected to play at least the first half, the backups are going to have less of a chance to impress the coaches this week, at least on offense and defense. On special teams, though, players competing for spots at the bottom of the roster could really strengthen their case to make the team on Friday night, so what happens on the kick and punt cover units could be important for guys on the roster bubble.

5. Kyle Van Noy's role on defense

With the first-team defense getting extended playing time, we should start to get a better idea of what Van Noy's role will be at strongside linebacker. I know Ashlee Palmer is still technically the starter there, but this could be the week that Van Noy grabs hold of the No. 1 spot at that position.

6. Eric Ebron's role on offense

We should also start to get a better idea of Ebron's role on offense. We've already seen him line up all over the field, but with Johnson back and the starters on the field for more than just a few series, how will Ebron factor into the offense? Friday's game should give us a nice glimpse of what we should expect in the regular season.

7. LaAdrian Waddle vs. Corey Hilliard

Waddle and Hilliard have both had some shaky performances so far in the preseason. Waddle is still considered the clear favorite to win the starting right tackle job, but he could use a solid game this week to really put this position battle to rest. At the same time, if Hilliard steps it up against Jacksonville, perhaps this position battle will continue into the final week of the preseason.

8. The second-team offensive line's performance

Speaking of shaky performances, the second-team offensive line was quite unimpressive last week. Guys like Rodney Austin and Travis Swanson really need to get things turned around, especially if they get a chance to play at all with the starters this week. (Rob Sims and Dominic Raiola have had their reps managed pretty carefully, so even if most starters play a full half, they may come out of the game before that.)

9. Nick Fairley's response to another week with the second string

Fairley is saying all the right things about his weight problems and recent demotion, but it really comes down to what he's able to do on the football field. If he really wants to get back into the starting lineup when the regular season begins, he needs to play better, especially in game action.

10. The Lions' secondary vs. Blake Bortles

For the third straight week, the Lions are going to face a rookie quarterback. They took on Johnny Manziel in their preseason opener and Derek Carr last week, and Bortles is up next. He is expected to get playing time with Jacksonville's starters, and he has had a pretty impressive preseason so far. Bortles will present an interesting test for the Lions' secondary this week.

Pride of Detroit Direct

Sign up now for a 7-day free trial of Pride of Detroit Direct, with exclusive updates from Jeremy Reisman on the ground at Allen Park, instant reactions after each game, and in-depth Lions analysis from film expert Jon Ledyard.