While I had planned on holding the stock report off until after the third preseason game due to the lack of volume of things to praise or criticize fairly, the team’s second preseason game against the Houston Texans provided many players the opportunity to raise and lower their stock.
Unlike Week 1, which was a route from the jump, the Lions were competitive throughout their second preseason contest and managed to give plenty of players the type of opportunities that make the preseason worthwhile (allegedly). So here we are, once again taking stock of the team.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB
Jalen Reeves-Maybin is angry today, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) August 18, 2019
Considered a bubble player to start the offseason after a very weak 2018 in a new defense, Jalen Reeves-Maybin has been pushing for more playing time throughout training camp. Games like this one are the types of stuff that gets a guy not only a role, but increased snaps on defense. Whether it was coverage, setting the edge, or blitzing, JRM was impossible for Texans offensive players to handle.
If not for the durability concerns that have plagued him since Tennessee, I’d be trying to slot him in as a possible starter somewhere. As it is, I bet the Lions still try to limit his snaps as they did during his rookie year, but if he can recapture that level of play whenever he’s called upon, then the team is better off.
Will Harris, SS
If there was a draft pick that has been having the worst training camp compared to his draft selection expectations, it has been Will Harris. We all knew he’d have a learning curve coming into the league out of Boston College, but his training camp has been disappointing.
This game, though? Will Harris came to play. Both in run defense and coverage, Harris excelled. His best play of the game was a scoop and score where the rookie pounced on a forced fumble, scooping it on the run, and taking it in for a touchdown. The speed he exhibited on that play was the type of thing the team drafted him for, but his awareness to see the play and make it is an area to build from.
Joe Dahl, LG
Man. Joe Dahl is still one hell of a smooth athlete. That pull showed off his quick feet and sprung Anderson for a decent gain.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) August 18, 2019
The return of “Good Job” Joe Dahl didn’t come with a lot of fanfare, but while paying special attention to Dahl whenever he was on the field, I came away very impressed. Dahl handled his assignments well and didn’t seem to struggle with much of what he was asked to do.
One play saw him pulling from left guard across the formation to seal off the inside of a run, and it’s rare to see a guard with the kind of light feet that Dahl exhibited. It’s a good sign for the Lions to see the line starting to come together, and I can only wonder why he didn’t have this job locked up earlier with as good as he looked.
Jahlani Tavai, LB
A positive for the Lions': No. 2 pick Jahlani Tavai making plays like a veteran. Spielman already infatuated with him on broadcast. You can see why.— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) August 18, 2019
Tavai only had a handful of snaps against the Patriots and one of them was really bad. It wasn’t a good enough sample size to pass any sort of fair judgement upon, however, so I was glad to get an extended look at him against the Texans.
Based on his camp, I had expected to see some good things, but Tavai put on a nearly flawless performance as a run defender and as a blitzer. His intelligence on the field is apparent as he deftly follows the ball carrier with his eyes while finding ways to disengage from blockers when he needs to attack.
Travis Fulgham, WR
Travis Fulgham with an incredible adjustment and catch on a deep shot. Can't believe he kept that ball off the turf.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) August 18, 2019
The reserve receiver spots on the Detroit Lions roster have been wide open for weeks. With nobody really separating themselves enough to call them locks, it was refreshing to see Travis Fulgham having a good game.
He did have a drop early, and you don’t want to see that, but the rest of his game saw him adjusting to passes in the same way that made him a draftable prospect out of Old Dominion. It is probably too early to call him a lock, but Fulgham certainly made a case for sticking to the roster and even finding time in certain packages.
Brandon Powell, WR
With Travis Fulgham showing a lot of positives, Andy Jones catching the longest pass of the game, and Chris Lacy showing value both as a receiver and on special teams, it’s hard to look at the game Brandon Powell put up and not be a bit disappointed.
A favorite for many due to his ability to run gadget plays and provide depth in the slot, Powell was blanked on the stat sheet as a receiver until midway through the fourth quarter and struggled mightily in his few reps as a returner. With even Tom Kennedy getting some positive plays as a receiver against the Texans, this was a day of missed opportunities for the slot guy. Powell would pad his stats as the Texans shifted to prevent in the game’s final minutes, but it was ultimately not enough.
Andrew Adams, FS
I hate to put a guy here who got a superb, heads-up interception in the game, but the rest of the day was bad enough to warrant individual mention. After the pick, Adams was victimized in coverage and was also the recipient of the best offensive highlight from the Texans. Tight end Jerell Adams stiff-armed Adams so bad I’m surprised it didn’t come with its own sound effects and pyrotechnics. Adams has had a very good training camp, but games like this could come back to haunt him if they get strung together.
Oday Aboushi, OG
Starting camp as a guy some thought could start at guard, Aboushi has seen his snaps dwindle and his role reduced. Throw in some poor blocking and penalties in this one and it’s difficult to find a sure path for Aboushi to the roster anymore.
Beau Benzschawel, who has had an incredibly rough training camp and preseason so far, seemed to have a very positive game against the Texans. Add that into Joe Dahl winning a starting role and Kenny Wiggins being swung to multiple positions and Aboushi could be fighting for his roster life at this point.
Josh Johnson, QB
Johnson got some hype for his play in camp this week, but, man, did he ever not live up to it. He struggled throwing all over the field and coughed up a couple fumbles. Like other backups this year, he held onto the ball too long, and his first fumble was a direct result of that and having poor pocket awareness.
Rick Wagner, OT: News of his demise in camp was greatly exaggerated.
David Fales, QB: Fales has had a terrible camp, but you’d never know it from watching this game.
Graham Glasgow, RG: Glasgow played well with the first team then did some more with second team.
T.J. Hockenson, TE: Hock had a very regular season type of hurdle play on his sole catch of the game, which went for 22 yards.
Jerome Cunningham, TE: Cunningham probably won’t make the team, but he did put some strong special teams tape on display.
Mark Thompson, RB: For a while, Thompson seemed to be making play after play that was called back by penalties by his OL. He punched in a touchdown late, though.
Zach Zenner, RB: Zenner continued his yearly trend of having strong preseason play.
Jonathan Wynn, DE: You don’t hear his name much, but Wynn popped positively as a rusher a few times.
Justin Coleman, CB: Coleman has caught some heat for his play in practices of late, but he did really well in this one, especially as a tackler.
Chris Lacy, WR: Lacy only had one catch for 8 yards on three targets, but he worked very early in the day and made an excellent play on special teams as well.
Tommylee Lewis, WR: Lewis’ best play of the preseason was a pass interference call on a pass that was uncatchable due to Lewis playing it too far outside.
Isaac Nauta, TE: Nauta’s biggest contributions to the game were a penalty and then a drop late in the fourth quarter.
Tom Kennedy, WR: Kennedy had a couple of positive routes and catches on offense, but he also fumbled on special teams play—his most notable moment Saturday night.
Andrew Donnal, OT: I guess you could argue it’s stock up since he didn’t give up three sacks this week, but he was still bad.
Luke Bowanko, OC: Bowanko’s biggest play of the game was a botched snap that killed a drive for Josh Johnson.
Malik Carney, DE: Carney was painful to watch both as a pass rusher and in run support in this one.
Anthony Pittman, LB: Pittman had several positives in this one, but his negatives were too difficult to ignore.
Austin Traylor, TE: Traylor’s only stat for the day was a drop in the fourth quarter.
P.J. Johnson, NT: The interior defensive line got pushed around far too much in this one, and while I paid close attention to Johnson, I saw nothing to give me confidence he makes the roster.
Dee Virgin, CB: Virgin is a long shot for the roster and games like this one are why.
Kevin Strong, DT: Strong has been pushing for a possible roster spot throughout camp, but did nothing to warrant that extra attention against Houston.