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What the Lions vs. Colts snap counts tell us about position battles

A closer look at the Detroit Lions snap counts vs. the Colts and what it may mean for the 53-man roster.

Detroit Lions v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

With most of the Detroit Lions’ starters benched for Saturday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, it was an opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate the depth in Week 2 of the preseason.

As always, the snaps counts and the snap order can tell a lot about where each player currently stands on the depth chart. However, coaches often mess with rep order and matchups during the preseason to evaluate players against different levels of talent. So it’s always important not to read too much into these.

That said, let’s break down the Detroit Lions’ preseason Week 2 snap counts against the Indianapolis Colts and see what we can infer.



David Blough: 41 snaps (55% of snaps)
Tim Boyle: 33 (45%)
Jared Goff: Did not play (DNP)

Each quarterback got a half of play, with David Blough taking his turn as QB2 and Tim Boyle dropping to QB3. That said, Boyle looked like the better quarterback on Saturday, leading to a very important third preseason game for each quarterback.

Running backs

Jermar Jefferson: 25 (34%) — 12 special teams snaps (44%)
Justin Jackson: 20 (27%) — 7 (26%)
Godwin Igwebuike: 18 (24%) — 3 (11%)
Craig Reynolds: 11 (15%) — 10 (37%)
D’Andre Swift: DNP
Jamaal Williams: DNP

The order of running backs didn’t change much this week, other than a notable shift toward the end of the game. Justin Jackson actually came in the game ahead of Godwin Igwebuike. Jackson played well, but so did Igwebuike. It’s hard to read exactly what this coaching staff thinks of Igwebuike because they admitted they aren’t playing him at returner because they know what they have in him as a specialist. Are they giving him the same kind of treatment on offense or do they really believe he’s that low on the totem pole as an offensive weapon?

Elsewhere, Jermar Jefferson continues to get early and often opportunities, but he was the one back who didn’t capitalize on Saturday.

Tight ends

Shane Zylstra: 46 (62%) — 17 (63%)
James Mitchell: 23 (31%) — 4 (15%)
Brock Wright: 19 (26%) — 13 (48%)
Derrick Deese: 14 (19%)
T.J. Hockenson: DNP
Devin Funchess: DNP

After cutting two tight ends last week, the Lions got a good, long look at their reserves against the Colts. Zylstra made the most of his playing time, looking like a capable blocker and receiver. Meanwhile, rookie James Mitchell saw the first NFL action of his career. It’s an important milestone for him, but he’s going to have to show some improvement going into the final preseason game.

Wright played a surprising amount of time early in the game, while Deese’s short amount of time on the field late in the game is a pretty good sign he’s got the most work to do.

Wide receivers

Trinity Benson: 57 (77%) — 5 (19%)
Kalil Pimpleton: 50 (68%)
Tom Kennedy: 46 (62%) — 8 (30%)
Maurice Alexander: 27 (36%) — 8 (30%)
Kalif Raymond: 14 (19%)
Josh Reynolds: DNP
Amon-Ra St. Brown: DNP
DJ Chark: DNP
Quintez Cephus: DNP

The most notable thing here is that after getting zero special teams snaps last week, the Lions gave Tom Kennedy eight snaps as a specialist against the Colts to prove himself. Here’s what coach Dan Campbell had to say on that front.

“That’s why we put him out there at the gunner and jammer—to get some looks at him,” Campbell said. “I saw a couple of them and, you know, he got doubled (on) a couple and that means the other guy has got to win. I would say he didn’t disappoint, but I need to go back and watch the film.”

It’s worth noting Kennedy also recovered the onside kick to seal the game.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as eventful of a game for Kalil Pimpleton, who seems destined for a practice squad in a crowded room. That seems especially true after Maurice Alexander made the most of his limited opportunities on special teams and offense.

Offensive tackles

Kendall Lamm: 48 (65%) — 2 (7%)
Dan Skipper: 48 (65%) — 6 (22%)
Matt Nelson: 32 (43%) — 4 (15%)
Obinna Eze: 20 (27%) — 2 (7%)
Taylor Decker: DNP
Penei Sewell: DNP

The Lions’ backup tackle battle is a little murkier this week after Matt Nelson started the game, but was quickly pulled for Kendall Lamm. Then Nelson came back in, only for Lamm to move to left tackle. Both players shared some up and down moments, but I think Saturday may have proven that these two may be a lot closer than you think in terms of the battle for the OT3/4 spots—if there even is a fourth spot?

Obinna Eze got the reps last in the group, which is likely a sign he’s on the outside looking in, which makes sense for an undrafted rookie.


Logan Stenberg: 74 (100%) — 6 (22%)
Tommy Kraemer: 74 (100%) — 6 (22%)
Evan Brown: 41 (55%) — 4 (15%)
Darrin Paulo: 33 (45%) — 6 (22%)
Kevin Jarvis: DNP
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: DNP
Jonah Jackson: DNP
Frank Ragnow: DNP

It looks like Logan Stenberg played the entire game at left guard and looked much improved as a run blocker. For a player that has battled through injury in his young career, these reps were undoubtedly valuable for experience and to put some decent tape out there in case he does not make this team. Kraemer also played the entire game, thanks to his versatility. He served as the team’s center once Evan Brown left, because the Lions released Ryan McCollum earlier this week. So the rotation basically looked like this:

Stenberg — Brown — Kraemer
Stenberg — Kraemer — Paulo



Austin Bryant: 35 (67%)
John Cominsky: 29 (56%) — 2 (7%)
James Houston: 23 (44%) — 11 (41%)
Eric Banks: 16 (31%) — 2 (7%)
Charles Harris: DNP
Aidan Hutchinson: DNP
Julian Okwara: DNP

With all the injuries and healthy scratches, the Lions probably played Austin Bryant more than they wanted to, but the reserve edge defender flashed once again. John Cominsky played well, too, but it was a different story for James Houston and Eric Banks. Houston didn’t make much of an impression despite playing in nearly half the defensive snaps, while Banks suffered an injury and did not return.


Bruce Hector: 41 (79%) — 4 (15%)
Demetrius Taylor: 26 (50%)
Jashon Cornell: 19 (37%) — 4 (15%)
Isaiah Buggs: 8 (15%)
Michael Brockers: DNP
Alim McNeill: DNP
Levi Onwuzurike: DNP

Hector and Taylor led the way both in terms of snaps and in terms of influence on the game. Both were key as run defenders, and Taylor stuck out as a potential interior pass-rush threat as well.

The snaps counts of both Cornell and Buggs are interesting. Cornell has been repping high all training camp, so this could be a sign that he’s safe. But Buggs’ low snap count is harder to diagnose. With no Alim McNeill, you would’ve figured Buggs was going to get a lot of looks at the nose, but that was not the case. Perhaps the Lions’ strategy this week was simply not to use a nose tackle very often.


Josh Woods: 28 (54%) — 11 (41%)
Shaun Dion Hamilton: 23 (44%) — 8 (30%)
Jarrad Davis: 18 (35%) — 4 (15%)
Derrick Barnes: 16 (31%) — 12 (44%)
Anthony Pittman: 12 (23%) — 8 (30%)
Malcolm Rodriguez: 12 (23%) — 5 (19%)
Chris Board: 11 (21%) — 10 (37%)
Alex Anzalone: DNP

The Lions really let the reserves battle it out on Saturday, allowing for four different linebackers to log at least 15 snaps against the Colts. Although Josh Woods and Shaun Dion Hamilton got the reps latest in the game, they also put a lot of decent tape out there again—back-to-back weeks for both.

Low reps from Board and Rodriguez are likely signs of roster security, especially since both played early in this game. Pittman’s snap count is a little harder to understand. He’s been getting a lot of work on the edge, but seems to have taken a step back in efficiency there as of late.


Saivion Smith: 18 (35%) — 9 (33%)
Mark Gilbert: 18 (35%) — 8 (30%)
Cedric Boswell: 18 (35%) — 6 (22%)
Chase Lucas: 18 (35%) — 3 (11%)
Bobby Price: 18 (35%) — 10 (37%)
Will Harris: 16 (31%) — 5 (19%)
Jeff Okudah: 16 (31%)
AJ Parker: 15 (29%) — 4 (15%)
Mike Hughes: 14 (27%)
Amani Oruwariye: DNP

Because everyone was so close in reps, let’s take note of the order in which these players came in.

First team (first three drives): Jeff Okudah, Will Harris, Mike Hughes (nickel)
Second team (next four drives): Bobby Price, Mark Gilbert, AJ Parker (nickel)
Third team (final two drives): Saivion Smith, Cedric Boswell, Chase Lucas (nickel)

Mike Hughes repping ahead of AJ Parker is certainly notable, but as always, it’s hard to tell if this was a promotion for Hughes or testing him out against better competition. Conversely, the Lions took Hughes off of special teams to get a look at other players on teams.


Kerby Joseph: 52 (100%) — 12 (44%)
JuJu Hughes: 52 (100%) — 9 (33%)
DeShon Elliott: DNP
Tracy Walker: DNP
C.J. Moore: DNP
Ifeatu Melifonwu: DNP

With everyone else rested or injured, the Lions let rookie Kerby Joseph and third-year safety JuJu Hughes play the entire game.

Special teams

Jack Fox: 8 (30%)
Scott Daly: 8 (30%)
Austin Seibert: 6 (22%)
Riley Patterson: 5 (19%)

Not much to read into the snap counts here. Austin Seibert was the first kicker in and got the first half. Riley Patterson was in for the second half.

The results are a little more important:

Seibert: 2 kickoffs, made, 28 + 40-yard FG, missed 55 FG, made XP
Patterson: 3 kickoffs, 2 made XPs

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