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6 Detroit Lions that need a big game vs. Buffalo Bills

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A look at the Lions players with most on the line on Friday.

NFL: AUG 20 Detroit Lions Training Camp Photo by Allan Dranberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For many Detroit Lions players, the time to impress their coaches is running out. In just over a week, the Lions’ roster will go from 90 players to 53. That means that Friday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills will be one of the last opportunities for players to show how much they’ve improved over camp and how much they can bring to the 2019 Lions.

Of course, for some, Friday’s opportunity is a bigger deal than others. Here are six Lions players that have to have a good game against the Bills.

1. QB Josh Johnson

The Lions’ backup quarterback situation is still in flux as Tom Savage has not returned from his concussion injury suffered in Week 1 of the preseason.

Newly-signed Josh Johnson had a rough game last week, but that was forgivable considering his lack of experience with the team. Now with another week of practice, Johnson needs to turn it around quickly to make a case for himself.

With Matthew Stafford likely to play on Friday, Johnson may not get a ton of playing time against the Bills, but he absolutely needs to make the most of his limited opportunities.

2. TE Isaac Nauta

With how the Lions intend on using tight ends, it seems very likely they’ll want at least four on their roster come Week 1. A few weeks ago, it looked like Nauta was a shoo-in for that last roster spot, but he’s had a rough go lately, including two highly visible drops in back-to-back preseason games.

I still think the job is Nauta’s to lose, but if he continues this trend, it’s a job he will lose.

3. All of the reserve WRs

We’re deep into the offseason, and fans are still waiting to see who will be the primary backups at wide receiver. Jermaine Kearse’s broken leg has left Detroit’s depth looking pretty thin, and that isn’t exactly very comforting.

Last week was a step in the right direction for several players. Tom Kennedy, Travis Fulgham and Andy Jones all made big plays. And if Stafford plays on Friday, these reserve receivers may actually get some good balls thrown their way. That kind of opportunity is one that no reserve Lions receiver can afford to waste.

4. G Beau Benzschawel

The Tyrell Crosby injury has sent a domino effect through the Lions’ roster. With Kenny Wiggins now repping almost exclusively as a second-string tackle, it may have opened up a job as a reserve guard.

Benzschawel has a good chance to earn that job, though he may have to beat out a guy like veteran Oday Aboushi to win it. Benzschawel surprisingly went undrafted this year, but the former Badger was a high-priority UDFA. After a modest performance against the Texans, if Benzschawel can show even more growth on Friday, he’ll be a difficult cut for the Lions.

5. Mike Ford/Andre Chachere/Jamar Summers/Dee Virgin

Like the wide receiver situation, the Lions’ reserve cornerbacks may have an extra roster spot due to injury. Teez Tabor’s future with the team was already in question, and now that he has been sitting out over two weeks with an injury, the opportunity is there for others to make their case for a roster spot.

These set of players haven’t gotten a lot of press yet, but as the Lions move into the second half on Friday, keep an eye on all of them to see if they make enough plays to get the attention of the coaching staff.

6. DE Mitchell Loewen

Pretty much everyone on the Lions’ starting defensive line has been sidelined all training camp. Early on, it meant more opportunities for Loewen, who gained a considerable amount of buzz.

However, that quickly died down as Eric Lee ended up taking more and more reps away from him with the first-team defense. But with Lee likely sidelined on Friday—he wasn’t at practice all week—Loewen has an opportunity to win back the momentum in this position battle.

The Lions likely need another body on the defensive line, and Loewen is one of the few with some NFL experience.