On Monday, we took a look at the players on the proverbial roster bubble on offense. Relatively speaking, the Detroit Lions' offense is far more figured out than their defense. Not only does Detroit have a bunch of questionable depth on defense, but there are a few starting jobs that are up for grabs, too.
But in Bubble Watch, we’re merely interested in the roster bubble players—the players whose performance over the next month could mean the difference between making the 53-man roster and finding a job elsewhere.
Week 1 of Lion training camp saw a few surprises on the defensive side of the ball that have caused some serious shakeups to our preconceived notions on how the 53-man roster may play out.
Here’s a look at our opinions on which roster bubble players are in and which are out:
- Jashon Cornell — 8 “IN” votes (down 1)
- Bruce Hector — 1 (down 2)
- Isaiah Buggs — 1 (up 1)
- Demetrius Taylor — 0 (no change)
Not much change here. The only real notable shift here is the one vote towards defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs. While Buggs has still yet to make a noticeable impression at camp, coach Dan Campbell mentioned the importance of having bigger players like him on this defense.
“I do think that we may need a little bit more girth up front,” Campbell said. “I wouldn’t say that we’re not looking for that or won’t be. You guys saw that we signed Buggs, that’s a hell of a name. I like it. But he did a good job. We signed him, he came out here and worked out for us, passed the conditioning test which was good.”
- James Houston — 5 (down 1)
- Austin Bryant — 5 (up 5)
- John Cominsky — 1 (up 1)
Bryant had one of the best opening weeks of training camp among any Lions reserve defenders. Unsurprisingly, he made the biggest jump in this week’s Bubble Watch and could be a true contender to land a spot on the 53 after literally all of us counted him out at the start of camp.
If you’re wondering why there wasn’t a subsequent player who lost more votes to make room for Bryant, there are likely two explanations. For one, a roster spot may have opened up with Josh Paschal potentially staying on the Physically Unable to Perform list following sports hernia surgery.
For the second reason, let’s move down to the next section.
- Malcolm Rodriguez — 9 (no change)
- Anthony Pittman — 8 (up 1)
- Jarrad Davis (LB) — 6 (down 3)
- Shaun Dion Hamilton — 0 (down 4)
- Josh Woods — 0 (no change)
Jarrad Davis and Shaun Dion Hamilton plummet in this week’s Bubble Watch. The reasoning is pretty simple for both. For Davis, it appears the Lions have completely taken away his reps on the edge, making him a full-time, off-ball linebacker. We’ve seen that story before, and it hasn’t ended well in the past. For Hamilton, he simply did not show up much during last week, as he frequently repped with the third-team defense. He’s the kind of player, though, who could show up in pads. So even though he no longer has any votes, that could change.
Anthony Pittman gets a small bump after a solid week of practice. Pittman—unlike Davis—actually saw his role grow beyond off-ball linebacker. He started taking some reps on the edge, as the Lions test just how many roles he could back up. That’s a good sign. Again, from Campbell:
“If he can continue to get better as an inside backer, the MIKE in particular, then bump him out and play SAM linebacker, which is a little bit new for him in a sense. That’ll take a minute, but yet he’s got the physical attributes to be able to do that, and he’s got some length, and he’s got speed. He’s pretty explosive, so we like the fact for a guy that you’re looking for, that man, let’s see if he can play all the linebacker spots, oh and he can play special teams, that’s kind of exactly what you’re looking for.”
- AJ Parker — 9 (no change)
- Mike Hughes — 9 (no change)
- Chase Lucas — 8 (up 1)
- Bobby Price — 0 (down 1)
- Mark Gilbert — 0 (no change)
Not much to say about the secondary in Week 1. With no one-on-one drills and very little testing of the defense downfield, it was hard to draw many conclusions about the cornerbacks last week.
Bobby Price was repping pretty far down in the order, so he gives one of his votes to Chase Lucas, who continues to stand out for his smarts and leadership qualities.
- C.J. Moore — 7 (up 1)
- Brady Breeze — 0 (no change)
- JuJu Hughes — 0 (no change)
Essentially, no real changes here. C.J. Moore gets bumped up a spot despite remaining on the Non-Football Injury list. That is likely a response to no other safeties making much of an impression in Week 1. That being said, JuJu Hughes got a lot of play with the second team last week and should not be ignored. And while these votes came in before pads went on Monday, Brady Breeze was a surprise standout when things got more physical.
- Riley Patterson — 6 (up 2)
- Austin Seibert — 4 (down 1)
On Saturday, we saw the longest kicking portion of practice to date. Patterson went 5-for-5, with makes from 33, 38, 43, 48, and 54. Seibert missed his 43 yarder. That’s what has likely caused the small shift in the kicker battle, but to be completely fair Patterson badly missed a 29-yard field goal on Day 2.