The Detroit Lions’ opening preseason game was filled with surprises, especially on offense. Guys like TJ Jones, Jay Lee and Cole Wick came into the game with a ton of hype, but failed to meet expectations. Conversely, Jace Billingsley and Dwayne Washington made a name for themselves on the big stage. Here are players to watch in the Lions’ second preseason game against the Bengals.
Decker is a bit of an obviously choice, being a first-round draft pick and all. Obviously, Decker is very important to the offense, making him an easy choice, but I am interested in something else. I’m interested in how the rookie will rebound after a shaky performance against one of the best defensive ends in the modern era.
Decker will go up again Michael Johnson. Johnson is an average veteran player who hasn’t tallied more than five sacks in a season in the past three years. Still, Johnson has been a starter on this impressive Bengals defense since the beginning of this decade. It should be an easier task for Decker than last week, but I wouldn’t call it easy.
Sticking with the offensive line, Glasgow now seems to have the backup center role locked up. Now he should be setting his sights on Travis Swanson and the starting job. He’s still far away from that goal, but with every preseason game comes another opportunity, and it’s an opportunity unlike any he’ll have during the regular season when he’s riding the bench. The Bengals have a deep, impressive interior defensive line, so Glasgow will be challenged. While I don’t think it’s realistic to expect Glasgow to show enough improvement in the next three games to warrant the starting spot in Week 1, a good performance could go a long way in keeping Swanson on a short leash.
We know plenty about Quarless’ gun incident and his subsequent, looming two-game suspension, but we’ve heard very little about the player himself. The Lions are desperate to find tight end talent while the top three players at the top of the depth chart continue to heal from injury. Quarless could be their guy, as he has displayed flashes of both receiving skills and blocking acumen during his career.
It would be unfair to expect too much from Quarless, as he’s only practiced with the team twice since joining the squad on Monday, but if the Lions were willing to take the PR hit to sign him, I want to see why.
Ridley has pretty much been a full-blown disappointment this entire offseason. When signed, he was fully expected to take Joique Bell’s role, and, despite being healthier than advertised, we haven’t seen any indication he’ll be the team’s premier physical back. By now, we pretty much know what the Lions have in Zach Zenner and George Winn. I want to see what Ridley brings to the table. Ridley had fewer snaps than both Zenner and Winn in the first preseason game and didn’t see the field until the second half. I’d like to see Ridley get in there a little earlier to see if he has the chops to stick around this year or if the Lions need to start getting Zenner ready for a full rushing load in 2016.
With all apologies to Pride Of Detroit cult favorite Jace Billingsley, Quinshad Davis is the receiver I’m most interested in watching on Thursday. Davis was somewhat quiet during the first preseason game, but has been endlessly praised throughout camp. His tall frame and great hands give him an edge, as that is a rare skillset among this group of receivers, but we haven’t really been treated to much of Davis in the public eye. Although he did receive the second-most snaps of any receiver in last week’s game, he only caught two passes. I’ll be keeping a closer eye on the undrafted rookie this week.