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Detroit Lions 53-man roster prediction: Preseason Week 4

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One final roster predictions before the Lions’ preseason finale.

NFL: New England Patriots at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions’ roster currently stands at 86 players. For many of those competitors, Thursday marks their final chance to make an impression with Lions coaches to justify being placed on their 53-man roster.

Before the Lions head to Buffalo to face the Bills in the preseason finale, here is one final prediction for Detroit’s roster.

Quarterbacks (2)

QB Matthew Stafford
QB Jake Rudock

QB Brad Kaaya

The Detroit Lions barely played Brad Kaaya during the third preseason game, signaling that he is clearly way behind Jake Rudock on Detroit’s depth chart. The Lions will get a really good look at Kaaya on Thursday, but I honestly don’t think there’s anything he can do to rationalize keeping a third quarterback on the roster.

Ignore the Jake Rudock trade rumors, he’s going to stay and be the Lions’ backup in 2017.

Running backs (4)

RB Ameer Abdullah
RB Theo Riddick
RB Zach Zenner
RB Dwayne Washington

RB Matt Asiata
RB Tion Green

Anything else would be completely shocking at this point.

Wide receivers (5)

WR Marvin Jones Jr.
WR Golden Tate
WR Kenny Golladay
WR TJ Jones
WR Jared Abbrederis

WR Jace Billingsley
WR Dez Stewart
WR Dontez Ford
WR Michael Rector
WR Noel Thomas

In: Jared Abbrederis
Out: Keshawn Martin

The Lions released Keshawn Martin on Monday, leading me to consider, once again, the Lions carrying only four receivers. However, there is just too much talent at the position for Detroit to pass on keeping a guy like Jace Billingsley or Jared Abbrederis.

Last year, there was an exciting showdown between Billingsley and Jay Lee in the final preseason game—even though it turned out neither would end up making the roster.

This year, I could see a similar positional battle between Billingsley and Abbrederis, but this time for a spot on the final 53. Give me Abbrederis right now, as he is the more polished receiver and can bring special teams skills as a gunner.

Tight ends (4)

TE Eric Ebron
TE Darren Fells
TE Michael Roberts
TE Cole Wick

TE Khari Lee
TE Scott Orndoff
TE Robert Tonyan

Had the Lions not released Tim Wright on Monday, I may have predicted him in over Cole Wick. But it appears Wick avoided a major injury against the Patriots, and that could mean he sneaks his way onto the Lions’ roster.

Offensive line (9)

OT Greg Robinson
OT Rick Wagner
OT Cornelius Lucas
OT Storm Norton
OG T.J. Lang
OG Graham Glasgow
OG Laken Tomlinson
OG Joe Dahl
C Travis Swanson

OT Taylor Decker (PUP)
OT Corey Robinson
OT Nick Becton
OG Brandon Thomas
OG Connor Bozick
C Leo Koloamatangi

In: Storm Norton
Out: Cyrus Kouandjio

I don’t think Storm Norton has played his way onto the Lions roster, which is why Tuesday’s waiving of Cyrus Kouandjio was so surprising to me. Detroit absolutely needs to keep four offensive tackles on the roster, but, sadly, there aren’t any other candidates to take the job from Norton, who would clearly be a better fit on Detroit’s practice squad.

Unless Corey Robinson is planning on coming off the PUP list in the next couple days, I don’t see how this plays out any other way.

Defensive line (9)

DE Ezekiel Ansah
DE Cornelius Washington
DE Anthony Zettel
DE Alex Barrett
DE Jeremiah Valoaga
DT A'Shawn Robinson
DT Haloti Ngata
DT Akeem Spence
DT Jeremiah Ledbetter

DE Kerry Hyder (IR)
DE Brandon Copeland (IR)
DE Armonty Bryant (Suspended list)
DT Jordan Hill (IR)
DE Pat O'Connor
DE Giorgio Newberry
DT Khyri Thornton
DT Ego Ferguson
DT Caushaud Lyons

Out: Jordan Hill (IR)

At the moment, there just isn’t anyone talented enough on the roster to justify keeping a 10th defensive lineman after Jordan Hill was lost for the season. I absolutely believe the Lions will enter the regular season with a defensive lineman that’s not currently on the roster.

Linebackers (6)

LB Tahir Whitehead
LB Jarrad Davis
LB Paul Worrilow
LB Antwione Williams
LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
LB Steve Longa

LB Thurston Armbrister
LB Nick Bellore

In: Steve Longa

If Friday’s game against the Patriots proved anything, it’s that the Lions could use a little depth at linebacker. It wasn’t a great performance from Jarrad Davis, Tahir Whitehead or Paul Worrilow.

Enter: Steve Longa. The 22-year-old linebacker has 10 tackles this preseason and has been a standout on special teams. Last year, the Lions had Longa on the practice squad for much of the year, but were reportedly paying him at an active roster rate, which is sometimes done to prevent a player from being poached by another team. In other words, the Lions saw something in Longa.

Longa could definitely play a role on special teams this year, but I get the feeling once the Lions add some defensive line help, he’ll be the first off the roster and back onto the practice squad.

Defensive backs (11)

CB Darius Slay
CB Nevin Lawson
CB Teez Tabor
CB DJ Hayden
CB Quandre Diggs
CB Jamal Agnew
CB Johnson Bademosi
S Glover Quin
S Tavon Wilson
S Miles Killebrew
S Alex Carter

CB Tramain Jacobs
CB Adairius Barnes
CB Josh Thornton
S Don Carey
S Rolan Milligan
S Charles Washington

In: Alex Carter
Out: Don Carey

Pro Football Focus’ Brett Whitefield joined us on the PODcast this week and our discussion on the secondary roster bubble has convinced me that Carey is no longer worth the roster spot. Besides having trouble staying healthy, Carey is on the wrong side of 30 and his special teams skills could be easily replaced by Lions roster full of willing and capable special teamers.

Alex Carter brings too much promise to the safety position to risk giving him up, so Carey has to go.

Special Teams (3)

K Matt Prater
P Kasey Redfern
LS Don Muhlbach

P Sam Martin

In: Kasey Redfern
Out: Sam Martin (NFI)

Back in July, head coach Jim Caldwell told reporters that he expected Lions punter Sam Martin to return some time during training camp. But camp is essentially over, and Martin remains on the Lions’ Non-Football Injury list.

Meanwhile, Kasey Redfern has been good during the preseason, certainly good enough to justify a roster spot on an NFL roster. At this point, I think the Lions play it safe with Sam Martin and put him on the shelf for six weeks, while they continue to get good play from Redfern.