The Detroit Lions finished their preseason slog with a dull loss to the Cleveland Browns. Preseason football certainly is not the idealistic depiction of football or sports entertainment, but it allows bottom-of-the-roster caliber players showcase their skills as they fight for a roster spot.
As cut down day approaches, the Lions coaches will have plenty of difficult decisions to make. Essentially every position had a significant camp battle, and in most situations, no clear winner emerged. The offensive line remains a mystery, the fourth (and possible fifth) receiver spot has plenty of players jockeying for position, the defensive line has many depth questions, and the secondary will have some tough cuts to be had.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Detroit Lions player had the best preseason?
My answer: The Lions struggled a lot this preseason, and there were not that many names that stood out. T.J. Hockenson flashed some serious talent, as we expect from the first rounder. Will Harris made some great plays on defense. C.J. Moore had an impact on special teams. Kevin Strong had some positive moments. Regardless, it is hard to say who will win the multiple position battles after a lackluster performance all around.
It was not a battle as prolific as the offensive or defensive lines, but entering the preseason, the running back position had some intrigue. Kerryon Johnson and C.J. Anderson were clearly established as the starters for the Lions, but the Lions had a few other notable names with question marks. Theo Riddick was well regarded as a pass catching specialist, but it remained to be seen if that was enough to stick around. Zach Zenner, the oft-cut but beloved running back, was looking to finally establish himself as a player worthy of a roster spot.
However, both Riddick and Zenner were released this past month, and I firmly believe that Ty Johnson is responsible. No, Ty Johnson is not a Petyr Baelish-like scheming mastermind, plotting their downfall.
Ty Johnson was able to climb the ranks from sixth-round rookie to roster lock with an excellent preseason. Stat wise, he only recorded a mere 42 yards rushing on 11 carries, and just two receptions. Not that impressive, right? Numbers do not tell the whole story, and Johnson certainly looked impressive this preseason.
Speed is the key factor Johnson brings to the team, and his performance against the Patriots showcased this often. Elsewhere, Johnson has the potential to be a dangerous receiving back if he progresses enough. He was hardly used as a receiver in college, so he will not replace Theo Riddick, but his hands are better than most expect. He nabbed a touchdown catch on a wheel route against the Buffalo Bills, and he might be a player worthy of making a few spark plays each game going forward.