The Detroit Lions got about one-third of the way through their cuts on Friday, officially releasing 12 players. But, for the most part, there weren’t that many surprises. The team saved many of their really tough choices until Saturday, leaving fans with many questions about what the team will do with some of their bubble players.
Here are the five biggest questions facing the Lions as they enter the final day of cuts.
1. Who will be the backup quarterback?
The trade for David Blough has little impact on who the Lions will keep around as their primary backup to Matthew Stafford. It’s clear the Lions want a capable veteran to come in and back up Stafford and also a young, developmental option to sit and learn for a year or two.
That means it’s still between Josh Johnson and Tom Savage for the backup job. Savage has been with the team longer and repped with the “first-team” offense in the preseason finale, so he has to be considered the favorite. But Johnson played well enough to make this a serious competition.
2. Who will win the reserve WR jobs?
The Lions only released Tommylee Lewis and Jordan Lasley on Friday, two players that were far from the bubble. That leaves the following players still fighting for a role behind the Lions’ top three receivers:
- Chris Lacy
- Travis Fulgham
- Brandon Powell
- Jonathan Duhart
- Andy Jones
- Tom Kennedy
You could make an argument for just about any of these guys, as they all provide something a little different from each other.
A follow-up questions is simply how many receivers will they keep? Last year it was six, but they quickly knocked it back down to five, waiving Bradley Marquez a week into the season.
3. What will the Lions do with their injured players?
Last week, head coach Matt Patricia said that both Frank Ragnow and Jarrad Davis were going to avoid the injured reserve list, but what about the rest of the Lions’ injured players?
Will fourth-round rookie Austin Bryant hit IR? Will he make the initial roster, then be placed on IR (making him eligible to come back later)? Or do the cuts of Mitchell Loewen and Eric Lee suggest he’s closer to returning than previously thought?
And what’s the deal with Steve Longa, who just returned from the Physically Unable to Perform list? Andy Jones appeared to sit in the finale because of an injury, does that mean he’s out? And is Amani Oruwariye okay after suffering an injury on Thursday?
How will these injuries impact roster construction? With Ragnow potentially unable to play in Week 1, will the Lions carry an extra center? And how will the Lions’ plans alter with Jarrad Davis almost certain to miss some time?
Injuries complicate cutdown weekend, and the Lions have some tough decisions to make because of them.
4. Who won the final jobs in the secondary?
The releases of Teez Tabor and Andrew Adams cleared up some of the picture for the Lions defensive backs, but there are still a few questions to be answered. It’s probably safe to assume the following players are in:
- Darius Slay
- Rashaan Melvin
- Justin Coleman
- Amani Oruwariye (pending injury)
- Jamal Agnew
- Quandre Diggs
- Tracy Walker
- Will Harris
- Tavon Wilson
That leaves two or three spots for the following contenders: Mike Ford, Dee Virgin, Charles Washington and C.J. Moore. All of those players have shown they can play special teams, so that makes the decisions especially difficult for Detroit.
The Lions didn’t cut a single linebacker on Friday, leaving fans to wonder what the plan is there. As previously mentioned, the injuries to Steve Longa, Jarrad Davis and Austin Bryant complicate things significantly, and Garret Dooley, Anthony Pittman and Malik Carney failed to really established themselves as a capable reserve. Detroit may need to keep one, anyways, but right now we’re left in the dark as to who.
For now, it does seem like Christian Jones, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Miles Killebrew are all locks. The question is whether the Lions bother to keep any other non-starters.