After getting the starters plenty of reps during their practices on Wednesday and Thursday, coach Dan Campbell has already indicated some starters will not be playing against the Colts.
However, several members of the Lions’ 2022 rookie class should see plenty of opportunities. Let’s take a look at the expectations surrounding each rookie as they prepare for their second preseason game.
Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed, based on what we know of the joint practices with the Colts this week, it’s unlikely Hutchinson plays at all on Saturday. If he does for some reason play, I can’t imagine it will be more than one series.
Williams remains on the Non-Football Injury list and will not play Saturday.
Paschal remains on the PUP list and will not play Saturday.
Assuming veteran safety Tracy Walker doesn’t play against the Colts, rookie Kerby Joseph may end up getting the start. Campbell praised Joseph for his performance last week against the Atlanta Falcons, and getting reps early on in Indianapolis should boost Joseph’s confidence.
“Well, look I would say Kerby (Joseph) showed up (in Game 1),” Campbell said on Monday. “I didn’t quite know where he was going to be at or what it was going to look like, and we’ve been on his rear in practice. I mean, we’ve been pretty hard on him and now he’s needed it. But he showed up. I mean the lights came on, and he did some things on special teams and on defense that is extremely encouraging.”
Like last week, I will be keeping an eye on how Joseph plays against the run. If he can continue to develop that part of his game, and with the playmaking skills he already possesses - I have no doubt Joseph can be a productive player at this level.
Whether Mitchell plays against the Colts is still up in the air. The Lions have brought the former Virginia Tech Hokie along slowly, giving him ample time to recover from the knee injury he suffered in September of 2021.
If he does end up playing on Saturday, watching how he performs as an inline tight end in the run game will be interesting. With starting quarterback Jared Goff likely not playing, the passing game may have trouble getting into a rhythm. But with run-blocking, that translates no matter what unit a player is on the field with.
I’m not sure when the Malcolm Rodriguez hype train is going to slow down, and I’m not sure it should. He just keeps making plays.
Rodriguez reportedly repped with both the first and second units during the joint practices, but it is unclear just how much he will play in the second exhibition game.
Personally, I think this coaching staff probably wants longer looks at a few other players in the linebacker room. If “Rodrigo” does end up seeing some action, I want to know more about how he operates against the pass. How comfortable is he running with a tight end down the seam? Is he disciplined in zone coverage?
We have seen how he functions against the run. He is certainly comfortable getting downhill and thumping people—that much we know already. But let’s see some of the other aspects of stack linebacker play, while the standings don’t matter.
After a relatively quiet training camp thus far, it’s time for James Houston to make some plays. With starters and veterans not taking up as many reps, he should have plenty of chances.
Getting after the opposing quarterback would certainly be a plus for Houston, but it’s his play against the run that really needs to improve if he wants to stick on the final 53. If you want to consistently play on Sundays, you have to be able to set an edge. Period.
Lucas has been turning heads for a few weeks now, and with the nickel cornerback job being an open competition, there is a realistic path to him playing meaningful snaps in Week 1 of the regular season against the Philadelphia Eagles.
In only six snaps against the Falcons, Lucas made two really impressive plays - including one that nearly ended in a game-sealing interception.
Lions rookie CB Chase Lucas (seventh rd; Arizona State) has had a solid training camp. Don't be shocked at all if Aaron Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant start giving him more reps. He's earned it. Others could use the message. pic.twitter.com/V0nu5GDshK— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 14, 2022
With more opportunities likely on the way against the Colts, I expect we hear Lucas’ name called quite a bit on Saturday. If he can continue to be counted on, this coaching staff is going to have a hard time keeping him off the field when the regular season starts.
For the remaining six undrafted free agents, every preseason snap matters, and this game could end up being a massive opportunity.
Kalil Pimpleton is incredibly electric but also buried on the slot depth chart behind Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond, and Tom Kennedy. He figures to see a lot of snaps in this game and will get a chance to prove himself.
Derrick Deese has been relatively quiet in camp, but the first round of cuts saw two tight ends exit the roster, Devin Funchess is injured, and if T.J. Hockenson (and maybe James Mitchell) rests, he should find the field a ton in the second half.
Obinna Eze’s stock is rising to the point that even NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” did a segment on him this week. Snaps at right tackle are a given, but could he also see time at his more natural left tackle spot?
Kevin Jarvis has gotten a share of second-team reps at right guard with Tommy Kraemer moving around, but an injury during joint practices could keep him out of this game.
Demetrius Taylor made some noise in Indianapolis this week when a video of him beating the double team of Quinton Nelson and Ryan Kelly hit Lions’ Twitter. With uncertainty amongst the defensive tackles, stacking wins like this will help his case, and he should see snaps much earlier than last week.
Cedric Boswell played well against the Falcons, right up until the last defensive play of the game. He will surely be looking to put that play in the rearview mirror and show he belongs. Depending on how much the Lions play the top three corners, he could see the field for a significant amount of snap in the second half.