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Detroit Lions Bubble Watch Week 4: Big changes on offense

The preseason opener caused some dramatic shifts in training camp battles.

Buffalo Bills vs Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Now that there is film out for nearly all of the Detroit Lions’ 89-man roster, a clearer picture is starting to emerge of what this team could look like once they have to trim the roster by over 30 players at the end of the month.

As head coach Dan Campbell said last week, the opportunity to shine in a game is not the end-all, be-all, but it can either be a red flag or a revelation to the players and coaches.

“It weighs a lot,” Campbell said of preseason performances. “Sometimes I think of it like, ‘How much are the tests weighted versus the quizzes or the everyday homework?’ Certainly, the people that put out the work day in, day out, you know who they are. You can’t lose track of that, but yet, even those guys—if you do that every day, but then all of a sudden, every time the lights come on, those are red flags. You can’t ignore those, you just can’t.”

So which players raised a red flag during Friday’s preseason game against the Buffalo Bills? Who showed they need to be part of the 53-man roster consideration?

Our staff updated our roster predictions—and saw a lot of changes on offense—after the preseason opener last week.

Bubble Watch Week 4: Offense

Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Erik Schlitt John Whiticar Jerry Mallory TOTAL Change from last week
Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Erik Schlitt John Whiticar Jerry Mallory TOTAL Change from last week
QB Tim Boyle IN IN OUT IN IN IN IN OUT 6 -2
QB David Blough IN IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT IN 4 +2
RB Jermar Jefferson IN IN OUT IN IN IN IN IN 7 N/A
RB Dedrick Mills OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 N/A
RB Craig Reynolds OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT IN 2 N/A
TE Alize Mack OUT OUT OUT IN IN IN IN IN 5 +2
TE Hunter Thedford OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -3
TE Charlie Taumoepeau IN IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 3 +2
WR Geronimo Allison OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0
WR Victor Bolden IN OUT IN IN IN IN IN IN 7 -1
WR Quintez Cephus IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 0
WR Kalif Raymond IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 +2
WR Sage Surratt OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN 1 -1
WR Tom Kennedy OUT IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 2 N/A
WR Javon McKinley OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 N/A
OT Dan Skipper OUT OUT OUT IN IN OUT OUT OUT 2 -2
OT Tyrell Crosby IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 0
G Logan Stenberg IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 +1
G Tommy Kraemer OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 N/A
C Evan Brown IN IN IN OUT OUT IN IN OUT 5 +2

NEW TO BUBBLE WATCH:

RBs Jermar Jefferson, Dedrick Mills, Craig Reynolds: Just a week after shutting down the RB3 race because it appeared Jermar Jefferson was quite literally running away from it, we’ve opened it back up. A solid preseason game from both Dedrick Mills and recently-signed Craig Reynolds brings a lot more intrigue to a battle that was absolutely dead in camp. At this point, only Mike Payton and Jerry Mallory are on the Reynolds train, but that could change if the new guy lights up training camp, too.

WRs Tom Kennedy, Javon McKinley: It feels like the Lions may have five receivers locked up for the 53-man roster: Tyrell Williams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Breshad Perriman, Quintez Cephus, and Kalif Raymond. That sixth spot—assuming there is one—is completely up for grabs. Plus, with injuries to Perriman and Cephus, perhaps their jobs aren’t completely safe. Throw in a rough performance from Victor Bolden on Friday, as well as Kennedy and McKinley sticking out, and suddenly the picture isn’t quite as clear. Kennedy got a few believers after a productive preseason opener, but McKinley still has a long way to go.

G Tommy Kraemer: With the recent waiving of Drake Jackson, Kraemer has a better shot to be someone who can step up from Detroit’s troubling set of backup interior offensive linemen. No votes yet, though.

OFF THE BUBBLE:

G/C Drake Jackson: Cut last week

FB Jason Cabinda: He’s been so involved in the offense since Day 1 and is running unopposed at fullback. He’s a lock.

Trending up

C Evan Brown (+2) — Brown continues to rep high with the second-team offense, and with the waiving of Drake Jackson, it’s hard to figure out who else could be this team’s backup center in case of emergency.

WR Kalif Raymond (+2) — Raymond didn’t actually play much in the preseason opener, ceding his special teams snaps to other returners deep on the roster. However, that’s probably a sign that Raymond is safe. He played a little with the first-team offense, and now he’s a consensus IN from our staff.

TE Charlie Taumoepeau (+2) — Taumoepeau’s rise likely has more to do with poor play from his peers than his own good play, as the Lions continue to struggle to find the leading candidate for the TE3 job.

TE Alize Mack (+2) — Mack is in the same boat as Taumoepeau. He did not stand out for positive reasons on Friday, but he remains the favorite to win the job simply due to repping ahead of everyone else.

QB David Blough (+2) — Likely due to the erratic nature of Tim Boyle on Friday, the backup quarterback job seems to have tightened here. Six staffers still have Boyle in, while four have Blough in. Still, only two of us have the Lions keeping both.

G Logan Stenberg (+1) — A solid preseason opener from Stenberg—his first real shot at proving he’s a gamer—leads to him being a consensus IN as we head into Week 4 of training camp.

Trending down

TE Hunter Thedford (-3) — A bad sign for Thedford: Out of all the TE3 candidates he had the fewest snaps with just 12. Can’t make the team if you’re not getting the opportunities to shine.

QB Tim Boyle (-2) — Boyle put in a gutsy effort on Friday after taking several hits in the backfield, and he had one hell of a pass. But, overall, he was inaccurate and a bit reckless with the football. Not what you want out of a backup.

OT Dan Skipper (-2) — Skipper has been getting plenty of playing time with Tyrell Crosby hampered by injury, but it’s still hard to see the Lions carry a fifth offensive tackle, especially when Matt Nelson continues to play well.

WR Victor Bolden (-1) — After a preseason game in which Bolden dropped a pass or two, muffed a punt, and did not catch a single pass, you’d think a more steep drop was in line for him. But it appears our staff isn’t ready to overreact to one poor performance.

WR Sage Surratt (-1) — 0 catches and one target isn’t going to cut it. He was overshadowed by several other depth receivers on Friday.