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2019 Detroit Lions bubble watch: 24 players fighting for a job

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Our pre-training camp edition of Bubble Watch is here.

NFL: Detroit Lions-Training Camp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, the Pride of Detroit staff gives their best guesses as to which Detroit Lions players will fill out the final few spots on the roster. We identify the players that are on that dreaded roster bubble, and we track their progress through training camp and the preseason by guessing each week whether they’ll make the 53-man roster or not.

As we enter training camp, the Lions roster bubble looks especially huge. We identified 24 players that are in the hunt to make the team but haven’t secured a spot yet. That’s over one-fourth of the roster.

The next month will be huge for all 24 of these players, but here’s where we think they all stand entering training camp.

2019 Detroit Lions Bubble Watch: Offense

Player Jeremy Reisman Kent Lee Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen Kyle Yost Justin Simon John Whiticar
Player Jeremy Reisman Kent Lee Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen Kyle Yost Justin Simon John Whiticar
FB Nick Bawden IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN
RB Theo Riddick IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN
RB Ty Johnson OUT IN IN OUT IN IN OUT OUT IN OUT OUT
RB Zach Zenner IN OUT IN IN OUT OUT IN IN OUT IN IN
WR Andy Jones IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN IN
WR Travis Fulgham OUT IN OUT IN IN IN IN IN IN OUT IN
WR Brandon Powell OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT
OT Ryan Pope IN IN OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT
OT Andrew Donnal OUT OUT IN IN IN OUT IN IN IN IN OUT
G Oday Aboushi IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN
G Kenny Wiggins IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN
G Beau Benzschawel OUT OUT IN IN IN OUT OUT OUT IN OUT IN

The first big training camp battle that emerges from bubble watch is at the running back position. While we all agree that Theo Riddick won’t become the cap casualty that so many fans have predicted all offseason, that fourth running back spot between Zach Zenner and rookie Ty Johnson is very much still undecided. Seven of 11 staffers think Zenner will make the team yet again, while five of 11 have the rookie displacing him (one believes the Lions will carry five running backs, six if you include fullback.)

Next is wide receiver. The top four pass-catchers, in my opinion, are set with Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, and Jermaine Kearse. The question is: who’s next and how many more roster spots will be devoted to the wide receiver position?

As of now, it appears rookie Travis Fulgham is the leading candidate for a spot. Eight of 11 Pride of Detroit members have him in, while only four believe Andy Jones will stick around. No one is convinced of Brandon Powell’s strong finish to the season, as he got no “IN’ votes this week. All three players are still practice squad eligible, so there’s certainly a case to be made that none make the team.

Finally, there’s the offensive line. Despite his bulky UDFA contract, rookie offensive tackle Ryan Pope only got three “IN” votes, while veteran tackle Andrew Donnal got seven. The Lions’ other high-profile undrafted rookie signing, Wisconsin guard Beau Benzschawel, fared much better. He received five votes, while the staff unanimously believes the Lions keep both veterans Oday Aboushi and Kenny Wiggins.

2019 Detroit Lions Bubble Watch: Defense

Player Jeremy Reisman Kent Lee Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen Kyle Yost Justin Simon John Whiticar
Player Jeremy Reisman Kent Lee Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen Kyle Yost Justin Simon John Whiticar
EDGE Eric Lee OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT
EDGE Malik Carney OUT IN OUT OUT IN IN IN IN OUT OUT OUT
DT P.J. Johnson OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN IN OUT OUT
DT John Atkins OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT
LB Anthony Pittman IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT
LB Steve Longa OUT IN IN OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT IN IN
LB Miles Killebrew IN OUT OUT IN OUT IN IN OUT IN IN IN
CB Teez Tabor IN OUT IN IN IN IN OUT OUT IN IN IN
CB Mike Ford OUT IN IN OUT IN OUT IN IN IN IN IN
CB Marcus Cooper IN OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN
S Andrew Adams IN OUT IN IN IN OUT OUT IN OUT IN OUT
S Charles Washington OUT IN OUT OUT OUT IN IN IN IN IN IN

Things are a little less clear on defense. Along the defensive line, the starters are clear and one of the biggest strengths on the team, but the depth behind them is still to be determined. Yet another undrafted rookie, Malik Carney, is on the bubble, and just about half of the staff believes he’s on track to make the 53.

The real confusion is at linebacker, where the Lions don’t have particularly strong depth. Special teamer Steve Longa missed the entire 2018 season, and only five staffers believe he’ll have a chance to redeem himself in Detroit this year. Meanwhile, the staff is split on whether Miles Killebrew’s time with the Lions is finally up. The safety/linebacker/special teamer received seven of 11 votes this week.

At cornerback, each bubble player received a little support from the staff, showing you just how competitive those final spots on the roster will be.

Mike Ford: 8/11 votes
Teez Tabor: 7/11 votes
Marcus Cooper: 3/11 votes

Finally, the battle between free agent addition Andrew Adams and special teams ace Charles Washington is one to clearly keep an eye on. Washington received seven “IN” votes, while Adams received six. Adams holds the advantage of having some serious defensive experience, but Washington’s special teams value is something we know this coaching staff values.

Each week, we’ll update these charts and track which players are trending up and who is trending down.

For now, who do you think is in and out?