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Bubble Watch Week 3: Roster predictions for Detroit Lions offense

Which players on the roster bubble will make the roster? We make our predictions.

NFL: AUG 13 Detroit Lions Training Camp Photo by Allan Dranberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With training camp now technically over, the Detroit Lions will spend the next two weeks getting ready for the Chicago Bears opener, which is 13 days away. There will still be opportunities for the coaching staff to evaluate their players, but it will mostly be done behind closed doors. Media will only have the opportunity to watch the first 15 minutes of practice—which is only enough to watch warmups and take attendance.

In other words, our time to evaluate the roster is essentially over. We have all the information we’re going to get, so it’s time to start making some predictions.

The offensive side of the ball is perhaps the most fascinating when it comes to camp battles. The wide receiver group is the most talented and the most deep on the roster. Running backs look equally talented, but injuries are going to make some decisions tough, even at fullback. Then there are the age old questions: two quarterbacks or three? How many offensive linemen?

The Lions will have to make these choices in less than a week, as the cutdown deadline looms on Saturday. So for one, final time, we got the staff together to make their roster predictions for the players on the proverbial bubble. Here are the results:

Bubble Watch Week 3: Offense

Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen John Whiticar TOTAL Change
Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen John Whiticar TOTAL Change
QB David Blough IN IN OUT OUT IN IN OUT IN 5 +2
RB Jason Huntley IN IN OUT OUT IN IN IN IN 6 0
RB Ty Johnson IN IN IN IN OUT IN IN OUT 6 +1
RB Bo Scarbrough OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 1 -2
RB Jonathan Williams OUT OUT OUT IN IN OUT OUT IN 3 -1
FB Nick Bawden OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -7
FB/LB Jason Cabinda IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 N/A
TE Hunter Bryant OUT OUT IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT 2 0
TE Isaac Nauta OUT IN OUT OUT IN IN IN IN 5 N/A
TE Matt Sokol IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 1 N/A
WR Marvin Hall IN IN IN IN IN IN IN OUT 7 0
WR Jamal Agnew IN IN IN IN IN IN OUT IN 7 +2
WR Quintez Cephus IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 0
G Oday Aboushi OUT OUT IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT 2 +1
G Kenny Wiggins IN IN OUT OUT IN IN IN IN 6 N/A
G Beau Benzschawel IN OUT IN IN IN IN IN OUT 6 +1
OT Dan Skipper OUT OUT IN IN OUT OUT OUT IN 3 -1
OT Matt Nelson OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0

New to Bubble Watch:

Trending up: FB/LB Jason Cabinda

Cabinda assumed fullback duties over the past few practices with Nick Bawden injured, and hasn’t looked bad doing it. He has a little experience from last year, so this isn’t a completely new venture for him. With the versatility to play defense and special teams, Cabinda has a really good chance to make the roster, and that’s obvious by the fact that literally everyone has him “IN” on the staff.

UPDATE: Bawden was placed on injured reserve Monday morning.

Trending up: TE Matt Sokol

Since shedding his red no-contact jersey, the Michigan State product has quietly had a solid camp. Whereas Isaac Nauta hasn’t done much since returning from an injury of his own, and Hunter Bryant has been sidelined with a lower-leg injury, Sokol is making the most of his opportunities. Personally, I have him in as a sneaky addition, but, admittedly, he’s still a long shot given his undrafted rookie status.

Trending down: G Kenny Wiggins

Wiggins still has the support of most of the staff, but he’s onto the bubble after the Lions made a curious decision late last week. With Joe Dahl dealing with a short-term injury, they put Oday Aboushi into the starting lineup at left guard. It may simply be that the Lions prefer Wiggins at right guard, but that could also be a telling sign that they like Aboushi over Wiggins, and it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to keep both given the youth on the roster.

Trending down: TE Isaac Nauta

Nauta has finally worked his way back from injury, but he hasn’t made much noise. Even though he finished the 2019 season moonlighting as the team’s fullback, we haven’t seen him take any reps there during training camp. He’s going to have to make some noise to solidify a tight end roster spot, even though Detroit’s depth there is thin.

Rising up

QB David Blough (+2) - It appears our staff is warming to the idea of keeping three quarterbacks on the roster. It makes sense, seeing as all it takes is one positive COVID test result to immediately require a third stringer on the roster. It may be risky to try to stash him on the practice squad, although the lack of a preseason likely helps keep his obvious improvement a secret... Unless there are Packers scouts reading this right now, and if that’s the case, Packers suck. Y’all idiots drafted a crappy quarterback when you have Aaron Rodgers.

WR Jamal Agnew (+2) - On Saturday, I noted that Agnew was the bubble player who helped himself the most during training camp, and it appears I’ve convinced the rest of the staff. Only Mansur Shaheen still has him out. It’s starting to look like he’s running unopposed for the punt return job, and his transition to wide receiver continues to look extremely impressive.

RB Ty Johnson (+1) - Only two staffers have Johnson out, as the second-year running back continues to rep highly in the absence of D’Andre Swift and Bo Scarbrough. His potential competition, rookie Jason Huntley, has the same amount of “IN” votes as him, though.

G Oday Aboushi (+1) - Repping with the first-team offense—even if it is as an injury replacement—is always a good sign. Still, only two people on staff has him on their final 53, so there’s still work to do in this final week before cuts.

G/C Beau Benzschawel (+1) - Benzschawel is back from injury and seems to have immediately assumed the backup center job away from rookie Logan Stenberg. Though Detroit has other backup options at center (Joe Dahl could slip over from LG), this job seems like Benzschawel’s to lose.

Falling down

FB Nick Bawden (-7) - No one has been hurt more by his injury than Nick Bawden. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy any of his two-year career, and his play when healthy hasn’t been convincing enough to hold a roster spot. With Cabinda coming in and looking the part, it’s becoming harder to see how Bawden has a case for the 53. Everyone currently has him “OUT.” UPDATE: Bawden has been placed on IR. He’s officially OUT.

RB Bo Scarbrough (-2) - It’s almost been a full two weeks since Scarbrough has been on the field. A few solid games during 2019 will only get you so far on a team that has drafted three running backs in the past two years. If Scarbrough doesn’t make it back on the field this week, you just can’t make an argument to keep him.

RB Jonathan Williams (-1) - After the Lions signed Williams, it looked like he may compete with Scarbrough for a spot on the roster. However, the shine has worn off a little at practice. He fumbled during the scrimmage, and he doesn’t have a ton of burst to him. At this point, there may not be a strong need for a physical back, seeing as Swift and Kerryon Johnson already run with some aggressiveness. Plus, you always have a fullback.

OT Dan Skipper (-1) - With the depth at other positions, a fourth offensive tackle is looking more and more like a luxury not worth keeping. Skipper is still the favorite over Matt Nelson, but it’s hard to make a case for either at this point.

No change

RB Jason Huntley - Huntley still has a healthy six votes, as the staff slowly begins to think there is room for both him and Ty Johnson on the roster. As of now, half of the staff have both players in. The other half is equally split between keeping just Huntley or just Ty Johnson.

TE Hunter Bryant - Despite his ankle injury, there are two staffers that still believe Bryant comes away with that third tight end roster spot. Given how he played in camp, it’s easy to see why. But if he can’t get healthy in the next six days, it’s hard to imagine Detroit keeping only three tight ends with one of them injured.

WR Marvin Hall - Perhaps the sixth wide receiver on this roster, Hall again displayed his deep-ball skills during Saturday’s scrimmage. With all the speed elsewhere on the roster, it may make Hall’s path to the roster a little harder, but seven of eight of us still have him in.

WR Quintez Cephus - Let’s be honest, he’s not on the bubble anymore. He’s a lock.

OT Matt Nelson - The converted defensive lineman hasn’t been bad at camp, it just appears he’ll be a victim of the numbers game. The need for a fourth offensive tackle is hard to justify when you have a couple interior guys who could kick out to tackle in a pinch.