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Lions vs. Steelers: 4 standouts from preseason Week 2

Lots of new faces trending upwards this week.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions mimicked last week’s performance on Saturday night against the Steelers, struggling mightily through the first half but finally gaining some traction in the second. They would eventually fall, 26-20, but we certainly got eyes on a few players who stood out.

AJ Parker

Parker was absolutely flying over the field Saturday night and made a strong case to move to the inside of the roster bubble with his performance. It may not all show up on the stat sheet, but Parker was around the football at almost every tackle. He was a significant part of shutting down the Steelers run game too, filling holes like a linebacker (and frankly, better than a lot of the Lions linebackers).

Parker was in the game from the first quarter into the third, so he certainly got plenty of looks and upheld a high level of performance with both first teamers and second teamers. He finished the game with a team-high eight tackles plus a pass deflection, to boot. In the third quarter, he was right beside Derrick Barnes on the near-interception.

Speaking of Barnes...

Derrick Barnes

Barnes provided a very nice change of pace from the awful linebacker play to begin the game. Picking up right where Parker left off, Barnes was flying all over the field for some impressive run fits. He was a stout tackler, which was refreshing to see after the first half. One of the highlights was a Mason Rudolph pass—the same one AJ Parker was flirting with—that Barnes got two hands on, but couldn’t haul in for the interception.

Of course, this came in the third and fourth quarters, so don’t consider it an omen of a Hall of Fame career. Nonetheless, it was nice to see Barnes build upon last week’s brief preseason debut.

Jack Fox

This is what Jeremy gets for letting me write the standouts article this week.

Seriously, though, Fox was absolutely cracked on Saturday night. His first two punts of the night were 43 and 46 yards, respectively, which didn’t raise eyebrows, but it must have been his warm up. He followed that up with a 67-yard ball and a 70-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Steelers’ 3-yard line, and capped off his night with a 60-yard ball in the second half.

That puts Fox at an average of 57.2 yards per punt on the night, which is pretty good if I may say so myself. (For those of you unfamiliar with punting stats, that’s about the equivalent of if I told you Matt Prater hit three 60+ yard field goals in a game.)

Jermar Jefferson

Jefferson didn’t have any particularly flashy plays, but he was a stout downhill runner while repping with the first team Saturday night. He only had three carries, but they came to 22 yards, which is fruitful. I may be reading into it too much, but for a seventh-rounder playing against the Steelers first-team defense, that’s not something to scoff at.