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Detroit Lions Bubble Watch Week 2: Defense

A look at the bubble players on defense that made the biggest impression, both positively and negatively.

Detroit Lions Training Camp Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions defense in in flux. After last year’s disastrous performance, changes needed to be made everywhere, from scheme to coaches to personnel.

Many of those personnel moves have already been made, with new general manager Brad Holmes reconfiguring the roster, with a clear focus on the defensive line. However there are many players from the previous regime that are still around and fighting for a spot on the roster.

The beginning of training camp last week gave us our first clear indication where many of these players currently stand with the new coaching staff, perhaps giving us a clearer look at what the roster may look like next month. With that in mind, our staff updated our predictions on which defensive bubble players will make and miss the 53-man roster.

Bubble Watch Week 2: Defense

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
DT John Penisini IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 +1
DT Nick Williams IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 +1
DT Kevin Strong OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -3
DT Da'Shawn Hand IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 +1
EDGE Austin Bryant OUT OUT IN IN IN OUT OUT OUT 3 0
EDGE Charles Harris IN IN IN IN IN IN IN OUT 7 +3
EDGE Robert McCray OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0
LB Shaun Dion Hamilton IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 +3
LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 0
LB Jahlani Tavai IN IN IN OUT IN IN OUT IN 6 -1
LB Tavante Beckett OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -2
CB Jerry Jacobs OUT IN IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT 3 +3
CB Alex Brown OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -1
CB Corn Elder IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 0
S C.J. Moore IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 0
S Bobby Price IN IN IN IN IN OUT IN OUT 7 +4
S D'Angelo Amos OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN 0 -2
S Jalen Elliott OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -4

Off the Bubble: DT Brian Price

Price retired hours before we completed last week’s Bubble Watch, so it’s safe to say he’s no longer on the bubble.

Trending up

S Bobby Price (+4) - It’s not exactly clear what motivated everyone to push into Price’s corner, but he has been getting second and third team reps at times, splitting with Jalen Elliott. Perhaps it was simply the result of an underwhelming start from favorite UDFA D’Angelo Amos.

CB Jerry Jacobs (+3) - Jacobs has quickly become one of the most intriguing UDFAs to watch. He’s latched onto starter Jeff Okudah to learn everything he possibly can from the 2020 third overall pick and it paid off on Saturday with a big interception during red zone drills.

LB Shaun Dion Hamilton (+3) - With Jalen Reeves-Maybin still on reserve/COVID and Derrick Barnes limited in action, Hamilton has taken advantage of the increase in reps and shown why he’s one of the more experienced players among Detroit’s linebacker depth.

EDGE Charles Harris (+3) - Austin Bryant remains sidelined, giving Harris plenty of second-team reps. It’s hard to judge his performance without pads, but by simply repping that high, you have an understanding of what the coaching staff thinks of him.

DT John Penisini (+1), DT Nick Williams (+1), DT Da’Shawn Hand (+1) - This trio of holdovers from the Matt Patricia era all saw a minor bump in belief and it’s easy to understand why. Williams has been getting starter reps, so he seems locked into a roster spot. Hand isn’t too far behind Williams on the depth chart, and has even snuck in a few first-team snaps. And while Penisini is clearly behind rookie Alim McNeill for the starting nose tackle job, the coaching staff has spoken highly of him and appear to still value his skill set.

Trending Down

S Jalen Elliott (-4) - I’ll be honest, I don’t quite understand the sudden departure in faith for Elliott. If he’s behind Bobby Price on the depth chart, it’s not by much.

DT Kevin Strong (-3) - Strong has been repping with the third and fourth string players, as he suddenly finds himself in a crowded, talented defensive tackle room.

LB Tavante Beckett (-2) - Beckett has been overshadowed by Hamilton and Anthony Pittman in camp, but when the pads come on Beckett will get his opportunity, especially if Barnes and Reeves-Maybin remain out.

S D’Angelo Amos (-2) - Amos’ clearest path to the roster was as the team’s punt returner, but unfortunately for him, he no longer appears to be in that mix. If he can shine at safety, there could still be a spot for him, but a rookie season on the practice squad seems more realistic.

LB Jahlani Tavai (-1) - Not much to report from Tavai in Week 1, which is probably not a great thing considering the amount of opportunities he’s getting. Still, repping with the second team is still promising.

CB Alex Brown (-1) - Always a long shot to make the roster, Brown has been overshadowed by Jacobs thus far.