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Lions vs. Colts snap counts: What playing time tells us about Detroit’s upcoming cuts

Did the Lions leave us any hints about their 53-man roster by how they used their players on Friday?

Indianapolis Colts vs Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Here’s a closer look at the Detroit Lions’ snap counts in their preseason finale against the Indianapolis Colts.



David Blough: 45 snaps (70% of plays)
Tim Boyle: 19 (30%)

You can’t read into playing time here, as Blough almost certainly got in the game earlier than planned due to Boyle’s hand injury. That being said, it does say a lot about Boyle’s standing with the team that he was the first quarterback out there yet again.

Running backs

Jason Cabinda: 27 (42%) — 1 special teams snap (4%)
Jermar Jefferson: 24 (38%) — 9 (38%)
Godwin Igwebuike: 15 (23%) — 6 (25%)
Dedrick Mills: 14 (22%) — 4 (17%)
Craig Reynolds: 11 (17%) — 6 (25%)

The order of play for the running backs was Jefferson, Igwebuike, Reynolds, Mills, which seems pretty accurate for the current depth chart. On the Lions’ most successful drive of the game, it was mostly Igwebuike doing the work, and he very well may have earned himself a roster spot with that performance.

Tight ends

Brock Wright: 24 (38%) — 13 (54%)
Alize Mack: 18 (28%) — 9 (38%)
Darren Fells: 16 (25%) — 3 (12%)

For the first time this preseason, Wright repped ahead of Mack. Was that the Lions simply giving Wright more of an opportunity to prove himself or a sign that the depth chart has shifted at TE3?

Wide receivers

Quintez Cephus: 40 (62%) — 7 (29%)
Breshad Perriman: 26 (41%)
Geronimo Allison: 22 (34%) — 6 (25%)
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 20 (31%) — 8 (33%)
Damion Ratley: 17 (27%)
Victor Bolden: 15 (23%)
Sage Surratt: 13 (20%) — 4 (17%)
Tom Kennedy: 11 (17%) — 2 (8%)
Javon McKinley: 7 (11%) — 6 (25%)

By design, the Lions gave Perriman a long opportunity to prove his case. The results: one catch, 6 yards, two drops. Oof.

Interestingly enough, Tom Kennedy—who is firmly on the roster bubble—did not get much playing time at all. Here is Dan Campbell on that decision:

“We feel like we have seen a ton of Kennedy. It gave us a chance to see those other guys.”

So the Lions already felt pretty confident in their assessment of Kennedy. And after saying they trust the guy, and no other wide receiver stepping up in the final preseason game, the outlook looks good right now for him.

Also, I found it very interesting—and needlessly risky—to run rookie starter Amon-Ra St. Brown out there as much as they did. I understand he’s a rookie that needs reps, but given this unit’s lack of depth, it felt like the risks outweighed the benefits there.

Offensive tackles

Matt Nelson: 47 (73%) — 3 (12%)
Darrin Paulo: 28 (44%) — 3 (12%)
Dan Skipper: 27 (42%)
Penei Sewell: 17 (27%)
Tyrell Crosby: 9 (14%)

After missing all of preseason Game 2, Darrin Paulo finally got some playing time. His roster chances increased slightly due to Skipper’s unfortunate injury, but he still feels like a longshot. Crosby and Nelson feel like locks.


Tommy Kraemer: 64 (100%) — 3 (12%)
Evan Brown: 57 (89%) — 3 (12%)
Logan Stenberg: 48 (75%) — 3 (12%)
Evan Heim: 23 (36%) — 3 (12%)

For the past couple weeks, the Lions have teased playing a lot of Evan Heim—particularly at center—to give him a chance to compete with Evan Brown. Well, seems that experiment never really got off the ground, as Brown appears locked into that backup center job.

Stenberg may have played the entire game had it not been for his injury, which potentially opens a spot for Tommy Kraemer, who earned some post-game recognition from Dan Campbell after playing every offensive snap.



Julian Okwara: 40 (65%) — 2 (8%)
Charles Harris: 32 (52%)
Austin Bryant: 31 (50%) — 7 (29%)
Rashod Berry: 21 (34%) — 8 (33%)

If you’re looking for a hint as to who the Lions may prefer between Harris and Bryant for that EDGE 4 spot, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the defensive snaps. HOWEVER, the fact that Bryant is in on special teams could be the edge he needs to sneak onto the roster. It’s worth noting that Harris did not play special teams snaps in any preseason game.

For the third straight game, Okwara led the position group in snaps, as the Lions clearly wanted to get him some playing-time reps to get him prepared for the regular season.

Defensive tackle

Bruce Hector: 33 (53%) — 2 (8%)
Miles Brown: 30 (48%)
Levi Onwuzurike: 27 (44%) — 3 (12%)
Jashon Cornell: 18 (29%) — 2 (8%)
Nick Williams: 12 (19%)
Kevin Strong: 11 (18%) — 5 (21%)
Alim McNeill: 7 (11%) — 3 (12%)
John Penisini: 5 (8%)

The thing that stands out to me most here is that Kevin Strong only played in 11 snaps here. Is it possible he has already won a roster spot or are the Lions just comfortable in his evaluation? On the other side of the spectrum, Detroit got a long look at both Hector and Brown, who struggled to stop the Colts running game in the second half.

Second-round rookie Levi Onwuzurike continues to get his feet wet, while John Penisini got his first preseason work on Friday, albeit a handful of snaps.


Anthony Pittman: 43 (69%) — 14 (58%)
Tavante Beckett: 32 (52%) — 10 (42%)
Derrick Barnes: 21 (34%) — 9 (38%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 16 (26%) — 3 (12%)
Jahlani Tavai: 11 (18%) — 4 (17%)

Tavai got the start on Friday but played in a mere 11 snaps to try and reverse his fortunes. While he didn’t make any egregious errors, the Lions used most of their night to examine the younger players. Pittman and Beckett played for nearly the entire second half, while Barnes got a few drives, as well.


Jerry Jacobs: 40 (65%) — 9 (38%)
Mike Ford: 33 (53%) — 5 (21%)
Bobby Price: 28 (45%) — 8 (33%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu: 22 (35%) — 7 (29%)
Corn Elder: 16 (26%) — 6 (25%)
Nickell Robey-Coleman: 15 (24%) — 4 (17%)
A.J. Parker: 13 (21%) — 2 (8%)

Parker, an undrafted rookie, only getting 13 snaps in the preseason finale tells me the man has wrapped up a roster spot. Behind him, Elder and Robey-Coleman split time, giving us no clear indication of who is leading the camp battle there.

At outside corner, Detroit gave plenty of playing time to Jacobs and, surprisingly, Mike Ford. Hard to draw any conclusions there.


Jalen Elliott: 41 (66%) — 10 (42%)
Alijah Holder: 40 (65%) — 12 (50%)
Dean Marlowe: 22 (35%) — 4 (17%)
C.J. Moore: 22 (35%) — 4 (17%)

After giving Marlowe and Moore the start, the Lions allowed Elliott and Holder to go the rest of the way, giving them valuable snaps for their development. If there’s one who could challenge for a roster spot, it could be Elliott, who shines on special teams. However, it’s more likely one or both find themselves on the practice squad.

Special teams

Scott Daly: 6 special teams snaps (28%)
Jack Fox: 7 (29%)
Zane Gonzalez: 6 (25%)
Randy Bullock: Did not play

Having known what they have in Randy Bullock, it was all Zane Gonzalez on Friday night. Unfortunately, Gonzalez didn’t attempt a field goal longer than an extra point, so Detroit didn’t get a great assessment of him against the Colts.

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