The Detroit Lions are set to play their most important preseason game Friday night, as they are set to take on the Buffalo Bills in the “dress rehearsal,” as we are only two weeks removed from the start of the 2019 season. That makes this week an interesting one, as we may finally see a lot of the team’s stars in action.
Here are a few storylines to watch tonight:
Does Matthew Stafford play?
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford is one of the few healthy offensive starters that has yet to be featured this preseason. Whether he appears tonight is still not confirmed, and there are real arguments for why he should or should not play.
On one hand, if Stafford suffers a serious injury, the Lions’ season may be over before it even starts. This team will not be making the playoffs this season with Josh Johnson, Tom Savage or David Fales under center. Every snap Stafford takes is a snap he could get injured on—which the Carolina Panthers learned this week when quarterback Cam Newton was injured — and the safest play is sitting him.
On the other, Detroit may want to give their starting quarterback some in-game reps before the season starts. With so many new pieces of offense and a new scheme under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Detroit may want to see their quarterback in action before he leads the team onto the field against the Arizona Cardinals is a few weeks.
Who can stand out at guard?
The starting guard roles both seem filled at the moment by Graham Glasgow and recently-extended Joe Dahl, but beyond them it’s hard to see where everyone sits on the depth chart. Kenny Wiggins is most likely a lock, but still needs to hold off anyone coming up from under him on the depth chart. Day 1 favorite Oday Aboushi may find himself on the outside looking in at the moment and has work to go Friday night. UDFA starlet Beau Benzschawel had a great showing last week and will try to lock up a roster spot for himself as well.
The guard position may be the one to keep an eye on in the second half once the starters exit. Don’t just focus on the performance of players, but the order in which they enter the game, as that may signify where the coaches have them in the depth chart thus far.
Will the starting defensive line play?
Much of the Lions first-team defensive line has rarely been featured this offseason, but one has to imagine that in the “dress rehearsal” game that all of the starters will be out there.
Damon Harrison Sr. recently signed an extension and may finally see the field this preseason. Newly-signed Mike Daniels has finally taken the practice field for the Lions, and he may feature in Honolulu blue for the first time in his NFL career on Friday. Free agent jewel Trey Flowers may finally play as well, as he has recently been activated off of the PUP list.
The defensive line projects to be the best part of Detroit’s roster this season, and we may finally get to see them in action this week.