The Detroit Lions wide receiver room is in the midst of a rebuild and that means most spots are up for grabs.
Tyrell Williams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Kalif Raymond have all been solid in camp and appear to have an inside track for key roles on this roster. Breshad Perriman was slotted for a starting role but he has struggled to stand out and a hip injury has put his role in jeopardy. Quintez Cephus has also been reliable all offseason and may round out the group if the team decides to only keep five receivers—as I predicted in my latest 53-man roster projection.
Things are far from settled and there are still a few key questions surrounding the group, like, will the Lions keep a sixth receiver? Or, is one of the above five vulnerable to not make the roster, opening a spot for someone else?
If the answer is yes to either of those questions, then that will be a huge opportunity for third-year receiver Tom Kennedy.
“He just makes plays,” coach Dan Campbell said of Kennedy. “I feel like – I’m going to beat this into the ground, but we’re getting to the point now where it’s like you want to find guys that you trust. Ultimately, we can wrap it into this package of, ‘He does this well. Blah Blah Blah.’ But ultimately, from where I sit and my coordinators and coaches, you want guys you can trust. We trust Tom Kennedy right now.”
Through two preseason games, Kennedy has proved very trustworthy and has led the team in receptions and receiving yards in each game. His collective eight receptions for 107 yards is more than double any other Lions’ offensive skill player.
“He’s another guy that does what he’s supposed to do when he’s supposed to do it, he knows where to go, he can play all three spots, and he makes plays,” Campbell continued. “When we need a play, he makes plays and he has just shown up. Once again, it’s hard to ignore it, it just is.”
Previously Kennedy was primarily a slot receiver only during the two years under the previous regime, but this offseason he has expanded his game to include time on the outside. Additionally, Kennedy has been trying his hand at different spots on special teams, something he absolutely would need to do in order to make the roster.
“‘Is there another spot that we can get a look at him besides returner or some other things’” Campbell said he and his staff pondered? “That is where he would be just a tick limited. Not for lack of effort or anything in that regard, but, ‘What do we do with him? Where do we put him where he can be an asset for us or at least help us in special teams?’ That’s something we're going to hone in on this week.”
If Kennedy can carve out a role on special teams this week, and then continue to prove his value in this weekend’s final preseason game, he’ll have a legitimate shot at making the 53-man roster.