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Tuesday open thread: Will Tom Kennedy make the Detroit Lions’ 53-man roster?

Kennedy has earn the team’s trust and continues to make plays, but is he a redundant player on the roster ?

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

Tom Kennedy has made the Detroit Lions’ job very difficult this preseason. Entering training camp, Kennedy was far down the Lions’ wide receiver group. Detroit seemed to have already figured out their top five or six spots, and Kennedy was likely a couple spots beyond that.

But the 25-year-old receiver has just impressed at every turn over the past month. In training camp, he’s making plays on a regular basis—albeit against the second and third-team defense. In the preseason, he’s led the receivers in snaps, receptions and receiving yards. He does it in practice. He does it in game situations, and as a result, he’s earned this coaching staff’s trust.

“We trust Tom Kennedy right now,” Dan Campbell said on Monday. “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. 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.”

So that’s that. Tom Kennedy has made the roster.

Except, it’s not that simple. While Campbell says Kennedy can play all three spots, the truth is he’s predominantly a slot receiver. At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, he’s not going to beat taller, physical cornerbacks on the outside, and he’s barely repping out there. To further complicate things, the Lions already have two pretty good slot receivers in Kalif Raymond and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Both of those guys have made just as many plays in training camp, but against better competition.

Additionally, Kennedy hasn’t brought much to special teams. He won’t win the Lions’ returner job this year, so Campbell and the coaching staff are trying to find somewhere to place him to justify a roster spot.

“We were actually just talking about him yesterday, ‘Is there another spot that we can get a look at him besides returner or some other things? Let’s see what we can do with him,’” Campbell said.

It’s a good sign the Lions are trying to find somewhere he can compete on special teams, because it’s clear they’re trying to justify keeping him. It’s a bad sign that he only has a week or two to prove he can cut it somewhere other than returner.

So today’s Question of the Day is:

Will Tom Kennedy make the final 53-man roster?

My answer: I currently have him out, but not by much.

Kennedy makes the roster under two scenarios, in my opinion. The first is the simplest: the Lions decide to keep six receivers. Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Breshad Perriman, Quintez Cephus, and Tom Kennedy. There’s little doubt in my mind Kennedy has occupied that WR6 spot. He’s clearly ahead of the likes of Victor Bolden, Geronimo Allison and Javon McKinley. Last year, the Rams kept six receivers on the roster, so this is a very possible scenario.

Personally, I think the Lions need to spend their roster spots on the most talented players on the entire roster, and this just isn’t that talented of a wide receiver room. It’s hard to justify six roster spots—especially if Kennedy can’t cut it on special teams.

But Kennedy could certainly jump one of the top five receivers still. Williams, Raymond, and St. Brown are roster locks right now. Quintez Cephus is likely the next most safe, but considering he was drafted by the previous regime, I would not say his job is completely secure. The most vulnerable player in the top five is undoubtedly Breshad Perriman. The former first-round pick dealt with an injury early in camp, and he has not made much of an impression since his return. He’s no longer repping with the first team, and he doesn’t seem to be faring much better against lesser competition.

The problem with Kennedy replacing either Cephus or Perriman is that it leaves the Lions perilously thin on the outside. You’d be left with just Williams, Raymond (who’s better in the slot) and Cephus/Perriman (whoever you don’t cut). Meanwhile, you’d have overkill at the slot position, with Raymond, St. Brown, Cephus and Kennedy all capable of playing that position.

In all, Kennedy has 100 percent earned a chance to make an NFL roster this year. Unfortunately, in Detroit he’s redundant. He wouldn’t see playing time as a receiver, and he won’t cut it as the team’s top returner. So unless he can prove he’s a special teams ace somewhere else, it’ll be very hard to justify a spot on the roster for him. And the Lions aren’t giving him much time to prove his case there.

Your turn.


Will Tom Kennedy make the final 53-man roster?

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