It’s last call for Detroit Lions players. Thursday night will be the last chance for several Lions player to showcase their talent before the men upstairs decide their fate for the 2018 season. In less than 45 hours after kickoff, the team will have to cut down from its current number of 87 players to just 53. That means 34 players will lose their job before Saturday night. That’s a rough time for everyone involved.
But to avoid landing on the wrong side of the chopping block, Lions players will be giving it their all on Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns. We’ve already identified five+ players with the most on the line in the game, but who will rise to the occasion? Today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Lions players will make the best impression on Thursday night?
My answer: Let’s go with my typical one on offense, one on defense.
Offensively, I think Thursday will be a big night for short-yardage receivers. With Matthew Stafford expect to sit for the entire game, expect a lot of checkdowns and quick passes from Matt Cassel and Jake Rudock.
So the biggest beneficiary, in my opinion, will be a guy like Jace Billingsley. Considering he’s well off the roster bubble right now, he should be getting a lot of playing time against the Browns, and I think he’ll showcase his talent enough to get a shot somewhere else, if not on their normal roster than on their practice squad.
Defensively, there are a lot of players that could use a good performance, and it’s basically a complete guess as to who will rise to the occasion. But since it’s such a fierce competition at linebacker, keep an eye out for Trevor Bates. Having spent some time already with the Patriots, Matt Patricia clearly likes something about him.
Bates bring special teams skills, which could theoretically help compensate for the loss of Steve Longa this preseason, but he has yet to prove much as a linebacker. Thus far, the Lions have actually given him a fair amount of playing time—at least 17 defensive snaps each preseason game—but there’s a chance he could get even more with the starters presumably out on Thursday. We’ll see if he takes advantage.