The Detroit Lions will play their final preseason game on Sunday when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then the next stop is Week 1. So far we know that the Lions plan to play starters in this final preseason game, with the exception of Jared Goff, but what else are we looking for on Sunday?
Here are seven things to keep an eye on:
How long will the starters be out there?
There are two things to be worried about here. The first one is injuries. You hope to see the Lions come into Week 1 as healthy as possible. The second is shaking off the rust before they step on the field to take on the Eagles. If the Lions didn’t play any starters on Sunday, that group would be missing out on playing live football against another team for nearly a month when they take the field in Week 1. This needs to happen.
How long will it happen though? If this is the new “rehearsal game,” then I suppose you could expect to see the starters out there for a half. Here’s hoping Dan Campbell decides to keep it a little more conservative than that.
Can we get some DJ Chark, please?
Chark was a highlight machine in the early days of camp and he’s still out there doing thing. But when the Lions played the Falcons in the first week of preseason, he was not targeted. That’s not a horrible thing. Other receivers were able to take advantage of the coverage he was getting.
It would be nice to see the Lions target Chark on Sunday and maybe get a highlight or two to tie us over until Week 1.
The offensive line
Not just the starters, but the backups too. This offensive line has been fun to watch as of late. They bullied the Colts last week and perhaps we’ll get to see them bully the Steelers this week. In reality, this will be only the second time since last preseason that we’ve seen the Lions’ starting offensive line in full health. Getting some more work together in a live game is a plus.
Where do camp battles stand?
A final answer won’t be given until Week 1, but there should be much to glean from this game in terms of trying to figure out who’s winning a battle. This game should give you the answers on who’s winning the David Blough vs. Tim Boyle backup quarterback matchup, who’s going to win out the final receiver roster spots, will it be Jeff Okudah or Will Harris at a starting cornerback spot and can Malcolm Rodriguez secure a day one starting role?
This is a big game and everyone should have their best foot forward if they’re trying to win a starting spot.
Who’s going surprise and squeak onto the roster?
This is somewhat of an offshoot of the last topic. This one is all about guys like Maurice Alexander or Tom Kennedy. There are 53 roster spots that need to get filled on Tuesday and there are going to be a handful of guys that are going to squeak their way into a roster spot. A standout performance on Sunday could be the difference maker. Who’s it going to be?
More Derrick Barnes
Lions fans were sure that Derrick Barnes was going to be a star during the preseason in 2021. In 2022, it’s looking like he’s trending in that direction. Kelvin Sheppard seems to think so. He says “Derrick Barnes is coming.” Barnes should get plenty of playing time on Sunday to show that Sheppard is telling the truth. Barnes, like Rodriguez, has a real shot of being a day one starter for the Lions. Let’s see what he can do against the Steelers.
Who’s not playing?
With the starters potentially playing half this game, there are bound to be some guys that don’t see the field. There’s a very strong chance that those guys are not going to make the team. Keep an eye on the sideline and pay attention to who’s playing. Even keep in an eye on how much some guys are playing. You might be able to deduce who’s getting cut before Tuesday.