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Detroit Lions roster bubble watch: Injuries force tough decisions

The Lions’ roster bubble is very complicated due to several injuries.

NFL: DEC 09 Lions at Cardinals Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Even before the Detroit Lions saw two of their starters go down with injuries on Friday night, the overall health of the team was going to have a big impact on the roster construction this year. What will the Lions do with guys like Tom Savage, Tyrell Crosby, Teez Tabor, Austin Bryant or Steve Longa?

Frank Ragnow and Jarrad Davis may have avoided major injuries against the Buffalo Bills, but their availabilities for Week 1 are still very much in question. As a result, the Lions may want to keep an extra guard or a reserve linebacker that wasn’t going to make the team before.

So now is as good of a time as any to check in on our Bubble Watch, in which our staff votes on the fate of several roster players.

Bubble Watch Week 6: Offense

Player Jeremy Reisman Kent Lee Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen Kyle Yost Justin Simon John Whiticar Change
Player Jeremy Reisman Kent Lee Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen Kyle Yost Justin Simon John Whiticar Change
QB Josh Johnson OUT OUT IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT IN 2
QB David Fales OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT 1
RB Zach Zenner IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN N/A
RB Mark Thompson OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT N/A
WR Tommylee Lewis OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0
WR Andy Jones OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN 0
WR Travis Fulgham OUT IN IN IN OUT IN IN IN IN IN OUT -3
WR Brandon Powell IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT 1
WR Chris Lacy IN IN IN IN IN IN IN OUT OUT IN OUT 1
TE Isaac Nauta IN OUT IN IN OUT IN IN IN OUT IN OUT 2
OT Andrew Donnal IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN OUT IN 8
G Beau Benzschawel OUT IN OUT IN IN OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT -4
G/C Leo Koloamatangi OUT OUT IN IN OUT OUT IN OUT OUT IN OUT 3
G Kenny Wiggins IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 0
G Oday Aboushi IN OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT IN IN IN OUT 5

New to Bubble Watch: Zach Zenner (trending down), Mark Thompson (up)
Off the Bubble: N/A

Mark Thompson has looked good enough this entire preseason to get serious consideration for the Lions’ RB4 job behind Kerryon Johnson, C.J. Anderson and Ty Johnson. Thompson has 17 carries for 80 yards this entire preseason (4.7 YPC).

While Zenner hasn’t done anything wrong and looks like his typical reliable self, you have to wonder if the Lions are tempted by a younger, cheaper option.

No one on staff is buying it quite yet, as Zenner is still a consensus “IN.” Thompson’s practice squad eligibility likely tips the scales.

Biggest risers: Andrew Donnal (+8), Oday Aboushi (+5), Leo Koloamatangi (+3)
Biggest fallers: Beau Benzschawel (-4), Travis Fulgham (-3)

Unsurprisingly, the injury to Frank Ragnow seems to have sent our staff into “keep every offensive lineman possible” mode. With Kenny Wiggins potentially moving back to a starting guard position in the immediate, the Lions need some offensive tackle depth, and Andrew Donnal is likely the best healthy option they’ve got.

Oday Aboushi is also now more likely to make the team, seeing as he’s the only healthy interior offensive lineman reserve with experience. Leo Koloamatangi could slip on the roster considering Detroit’s potential short-term need for a backup center.

Just missing the list was quarterback Josh Johnson, who saw a little bump in confidence after his solid game against the Bills combined with David Fales’ rough outing. Five of our 11 staffers think neither Johnson nor Fales will be the team’s backup in 2019.

As for the fallers, Beau Benzschawel saw a big hit as the staff now seems to value Aboushi’s experience over Benzschawel’s potential. Considering the Lions may rely on their depth sooner rather than later, that makes some sense.

Travis Fulgham’s game-losing fumble lost him some confidence this week, as he’s fallen behind Chris Lacy in the reserve receiver race.

Bubble Watch Week 6: Defense

Player Jeremy Reisman Kent Lee Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen Kyle Yost Justin Simon John Whiticar Change
Player Jeremy Reisman Kent Lee Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen Kyle Yost Justin Simon John Whiticar Change
EDGE Eric Lee OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT -5
EDGE Malik Carney OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT -1
EDGE Mitchell Loewen IN IN IN IN IN IN IN OUT OUT IN IN 6
DT P.J. Johnson OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT -1
DT John Atkins OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0
DT Kevin Strong IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 5
DT Fred Jones OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT -3
LB Steve Longa OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN -4
LB Miles Killebrew IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN OUT -1
CB Teez Tabor OUT OUT IN OUT IN IN OUT IN IN IN IN -2
CB Mike Ford OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT -4
S Andrew Adams IN OUT OUT IN IN OUT IN IN OUT IN OUT -3
S Charles Washington IN IN OUT OUT IN IN IN OUT OUT OUT IN 4
S Tavon Wilson IN OUT IN IN OUT OUT IN IN IN IN IN 0
S C.J. Moore OUT IN OUT IN OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT N/A

New to Bubble Watch: C.J. Moore (trending up)
Off the Bubble: N/A

Thanks to some special teams play, C.J. Moore has worked his way onto the roster bubble. Even though the Lions’ safety room is extremely crowded, three staff members still have him in.

Biggest risers: Mitchell Loewen (+6), Kevin Strong (+5) Charles Washington (+4)
Biggest fallers: Eric Lee (-5), Steve Longa (-4), Mike Ford (-4), Fred Jones (-3), Andrew Adams (-3)

With Eric Lee nursing an undisclosed injury and Steve Longa still on the PUP, those were our two biggest losers of the week. Conversely, Mitchell Loewen hype is back for no other reason than no one else stepping up on the edge.

Kevin Strong continues his upward trajectory in the backup interior defender race, while there were some drastic shifts at safety this week. Andrew Adams is trending downward with a lot of staff and media members due to his wildly inconsistent play. Meanwhile, Charles Washington—despite playing zero defensive snaps against the Bills last week—is on the rise. POD loves special teams as much as Bob Quinn, I guess.