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Detroit Lions Bubble Watch Week 5: Offensive camp battles tighten up

The backup QB battle shifts, while one WR has fallen off completely.

Detroit Lions v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions offense didn’t have its best day against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. But with most of their key players out of the game, the goal for Detroit’s second preseason game wasn’t to win the game but to get a really good look at the team’s depth.

That means that there were jobs on the line, and it’s clear that some of the Lions players on the roster bubble made the most of that opportunity, while others hurt their chances to stay on the team into September.

With some roster cuts coming up in the next 24 hours, and several more coming the following week, it’s time again to revisit the players on the roster bubble and see which players we believe are on the outside looking in and which players are close to securing a job.

It’s Week 5 of Roster Bubble! Let’s start with the offense.

Bubble Watch Week 5: 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 OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT 2 -4
QB David Blough IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 +4
RB Jermar Jefferson IN IN OUT IN IN IN IN IN 7 0
RB Dedrick Mills OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT 1 +1
RB Craig Reynolds OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 1 -1
TE Alize Mack IN OUT IN IN IN IN IN IN 7 +2
TE Brock Wright OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 N/A
WR Geronimo Allison OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0
WR Victor Bolden OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -7
WR Quintez Cephus IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 0
WR Sage Surratt OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -1
WR Tom Kennedy OUT IN IN OUT IN OUT OUT IN 4 +2
WR Javon McKinley OUT IN IN IN OUT OUT IN IN 5 +5
OT Dan Skipper OUT OUT IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT 2 0
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 0
G Tommy Kraemer OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0
C Evan Brown IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 +5

NEW TO BUBBLE WATCH:

TE Brock Wright — Due to injuries and lackluster play, the TE3 battle is down to just two players: Wright and Alize Mack. At this point, however, everyone is on the Mack train—except for Ryan, who must believe TE3 is not currently on the roster.

OFF THE BUBBLE:

TE Charlie Taumoepeau, Hunter Thedford — Thedford was released to make room for Nick Williams returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list, while Charlie Taumoepeau was injured in a car accident. Taumoepeau was waived, but returned to the team on the reserve/non-football injury list. His season is over.

WR Kalif Raymond — Raymond is no longer on the bubble. His absence from Saturday’s game is proof that Raymond has not only won a roster spot but he has been deemed by the coaching staff as important enough to protect from injury in the preseason. He very well may be the team’s No. 2 receiver.

Trending up

C Evan Brown (+5) — Brown played in 100 percent of the snaps in Saturday’s game and has cemented himself as the team’s backup center. His performance was shaky, though, so it’s always possible the Lions go hunting for a better option.

WR Javon McKinley (+5) — In my personal opinion [Editor’s note: Erik agrees], McKinley remains a significant longshot to make the roster, but it appears many of the staff believes he could catch a roster spot. He did catch a touchdown on Saturday, but it was his only catch of the game and it came in the fourth quarter of a preseason game. In his defense, this was the second straight week he’s made a big play, though.

This appears to be more of a reaction of a spot “opening up” due to another receiver’s struggles (more on that later).

QB David Blough (+4) — Blough was an efficient 12-of-17 for 143 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers. More impressively, he led the Lions to touchdowns on all three of his drives, while Tim Boyle led Detroit to exactly zero points in his five possession. Because of the drastic difference in performance, our entire staff now has Blough in.

TE Alize Mack (+2) — With the elimination of two of his competitor at tight end, Mack now has near unanimous support from our staff. He’s still struggling out there, especially when it comes to pass blocking, but with no other options out there, it appears he may have the job. Though, as Ryan is indicating, maybe that TE3 spot will be filled by someone not on the roster.

WR Tom Kennedy (+2) — In back-to-back weeks, Kennedy has led the team in preseason receiving yards. Not only that, but it’s clear he’s jumped Victor Bolden on the depth chart, repping ahead of him in practice and getting far more special teams looks now.

RB Dedrick Mills (+1) — While Craig Reynolds is the better story, Mills had himself an impressive game against the Steelers on Saturday, grading out in the Lions’ top five performers. He also continues to get in the game before Reynolds, which is typically a sign the coaching staff favors them.

Trending down

WR Victor Bolden (-7) — Bolden squandered a couple of opportunities last week by dropping a couple of passes and muffing a punt. Those issues carried over into the following week of practice, and his playing time decreased. On Saturday, he had an opportunity to bounce back, but he didn’t even see a ball thrown his way in his 13 snaps.

QB Tim Boyle (-4) — Boyle was inaccurate, unproductive, and nearly threw two interceptions on Saturday night. Myself and Erik Schlitt still believe he’ll catch a roster spot, as the Lions could very well carry three quarterbacks, but I think we’d both agree that his status as QB2 is very much in danger.

RB Craig Reynolds (-1) — Even though Reynolds saw his stock only rise after another good game against the Steelers, it appears some of the initial excitement from last week’s surprise performance has worn off. Still, Reynolds has a legitimate shot at the roster if he can continue to impress in the preseason finale, especially if he goes up against better competition.

WR Sage Surratt (-1) — Surratt has caught zero passes in the preseason.