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Detroit Lions vs. Buffalo Bills preseason Week 1: 5 players to watch

5 players who need to show what they got against Buffalo

Detroit Lions Training Camp Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Football is back! At least the fake version of it, anyways. The Detroit Lions open up their preseason campaign Friday night when they host the Buffalo Bills. So far, we know to expect Lions starters to get about a quarter’s worth of work in the books. Here are five Lions to watch for:

Amon-Ra St. Brown

There’s been a lot of hype around St. Brown this summer. With the Lions receiving corps appearing to be to be quite thin, there’s reason to believe St. Brown could be a major part of the Lions passing game in 2021, especially after Jared Goff paired up with the rookie to teach him things that his old teammate Cooper Kupp did in Los Angeles. Friday night will give Lions fans an idea of what the team plans to do with him.

St Brown did show up a little buried on the Lions unofficial depth chart, but as we know, those don’t mean anything. Look for St. Brown to get some run with the first team in this game. Then look for him to get some more run after that. I’m predicting he’ll have his finger prints all over this game.

Jamaal Williams

It’s been an absolute pleasure having this guy around so far. Williams has been hilarious every chance he gets. But that hasn’t shown us how the Lions run game is going to work out. How the Lions use Williams on Friday could reveal a lot about not only the Lions run game, but how much the offense will rely on it.

D’Andre Swift will more than likely be the top running back for the Lions this year. But with the Lions being careful about his lingering groin injury, it will most likely be Williams with the first-team offense.

Da’Shawn Hand

I’ve been little hard on Hand this offseason. Just a few weeks ago I speculated that Hand could be the odd man out if he didn’t show out in camp. He’s done just that. He’s shown a flare that he hasn’t shown in a while and despite some “minor” injury issues, he’s looked pretty decent.

If Hand plays on Friday—and that’s a big if considering how the Lions have played it cautious with injuries thus far—it will be interesting to see how the Lions use him and how he much of an impact he makes on the pass rushing front. While he’s showed up in camp, he’s not quite out of the woods yet. Hand will need to have a good game.

Alim McNeill

The third-round pick has shown up big in camp, bigger than a lot of people thought he would. Even Lions defensive line coach Todd Wash thinks so. Big enough to be named the Lions’ starting nose tackle on the aforementioned unofficial depth chart and basically play with the first team defense for all of camp thus far.

There’s been some crazies out there who have compared McNeill to Rams superstar Aaron Donald, so it’s safe to say McNeill is definitely going to be a guy that we are going to have our eyes glued on. That’s a super lofty goal that we in no way should hold McNeill to, by the way. But, he still has shown everyone at camp that he can be at least be a good starter in the NFL. On Friday, he can show that to everyone else.

Jared Goff

It’s been real, but on Friday night it’s going to get as real as can be. The Lions have a new quarterback. Matthew Stafford is out and Jared Goff is in. So it will be interesting to see the very beginning of this experiment.

What will Goff show in this game? Whatever it is, it’s probably going to be pretty vanilla. Look for the Lions to go through the motions with Goff and the rest of the offense, and look for Lions fans to overreact to whatever happens. Call me crazy, but I believe that some Lions fans are looking for reason to love Goff while some are also looking for a reason to hate him. On Friday night those reasons could show.