Today marks one week before the Detroit Lions, and every other team, have to cut down their roster to 53 players for the 2020 regular season. It seems impossible for that to be true, considering teams have only had a little over a week’s worth of padded practices, with not OTAs, no minicamp and no preseason to help get these players in shape mentally and physically.
But that’s the truth, and it means the Lions staff have to make use of every moment between now and then, and the players can’t afford to make many more mistakes or it could realistically cost them their job.
Of course, plenty of players have already made an impression since the players arrived at Allen Park. Some players that were thought of as bubble players are nearing “roster lock” status. Meanwhile, there are at least a couple players that entered camp as someone with a presumed roster spot, only to see their chances to make the team slip.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Lions bubble player has made the best case to make the roster?
I know this is probably an impossible answer for you, seeing as you haven’t been able to watch any of training camp and the preseason is cancelled, but based on my own observations—and other beat writers feeling the same—I think the answer is cornerback-turned-wide receiver Jamal Agnew.
I will admit I was skeptical of both the position move and Agnew’s spot on the roster when training camp started. Given the diminishing role a punt and kick returner have in today’s NFL, this seemed like a desperate play by the coaching staff to see if Agnew could provide them more value at a position that actually matters. Throw in the fact that the Lions have a bunch of new, speedy options that could theoretically replace him on special teams, and it seemed like Agnew’s days could be numbered.
But his biggest competition at punt return—Jason Huntley—botched three consecutive punt return catches in one practice, and no one else has emerged as a legitimate replacement option. Meanwhile, Agnew has done just about everything in his power to look like he belongs as a solid backup—and possible successor—to Danny Amendola. He’s got the hands, the route running is coming along nicely, and his speed and agility are still put to good use. You can see just how natural he looks in the video of wide receiver coach Ron Prince mic’d up at training camp.
The cherry on the top came from Amendola himself during his Friday media session. When asked about Agnew’s transition, he gave a bunch of general compliments, but at the end, he slipped in something I found very telling.
“He’s going to be huge for us this year.”
That’s all I need to hear.