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3 storylines to watch as the Lions take on the Browns

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Some players still have work to do as Detroit closes out its preseason.

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Buffalo Bills v Detroit Lions Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions will play their final preseason game against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. The battle for The Great Lakes Freighter Trophy will be the final chance for many to earn their spot on the Lions roster with cut day coming this Saturday. Here are a few storylines to watch for on Thursday night:

Who doesn’t play?

With only a week left until the season opener, the Lions will not be playing any players that they expect to play a meaningful role for them this season. While in a normal game a fringe player not getting any snaps would be a concern, anyone who does not play on Thursday night is probably destined for the 53-man roster.

Players to keep an eye on in this respect are Kenny Wiggins, Oday Aboushi, Tavon Wilson and Teez Tabor. All of them are good bets to make the roster but may have a little work to do to get there. If they end up not featuring against the Browns then that could signal the coaching staff feels they are a lock for the final roster.

Can Mark Thompson work his way onto the roster?

The Lions made a shocking move by releasing Zach Zenner on Tuesday. While Zenner was a special teams player more than anything, his absence may open the door for Thompson to unexpectedly steal a roster spot.

Thompson will still have work to do. The running back does not provide much on special teams and will have to prove himself as a productive running back. He is, at best, the fourth best running back on the roster—fifth, if you count fullback Nick Bawden—meaning he needs to convince Detroit that he is too valuable to risk stashing on the practice squad.

Expect him to get a lot of carries tonight as Kerryon Johnson and C.J. Anderson will most likely sit out of the action. Thompson will have to make the most of them.

Can anyone stand out at receiver?

Detroit’s wide receivers are having a terrible preseason. None of the depth guys that are fighting tooth and nail to make the roster have done much of anything through three games. That means that the field is still wide open entering the final week of preseason.

The first three wide receiver slots are set for the Lions, and do not expect Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. or Danny Amendola to feature tonight. Whoever gets the starting nod is probably in pole position to earn one of the final roster spots at receiver, and so far in preseason that has been Andy Jones, Brandon Powell and Chris Lacy. Travis Fulgham may have reason to feel confident in his ability to make the 53-man roster as the Lions recently invested a sixth-round draft pick in him.

It is likely that the Lions choose to keep five receivers on their 53-man roster. That means that two spots will be up for grabs tonight. With the field this wide open, expect anyone who has even a remotely good game to have a real chance at making the cut this Saturday.