Monday afternoon, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell did not have any roster moves to announce as the Lions must get their roster down to 53 players by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline. And while he tried his best to avoid dropping any hints about the moves to come—many of which he and general manager Brad Holmes are still debating—there are certainly some things he said that could be interpreted as hints.
But one common theme from his press conference was that after having some preliminary roster conversations with Holmes, it’s clear this roster is in a much better spot than it was last year.
“It’s a lot more difficult than even last year,” Campbell said. “You know, it was tough last year, but this year, because we are so much farther along—and it’s a credit to Brad because our talent level is better, and the competition is better, and I’ll just say it again, the better the competition, the better the players rise to that occasion.”
Campbell took things a little further, noting that he believes some players who were contributors last year will probably not be around this year.
“We’re going to probably have to let go of some players that were here all last year that we depended, did everything we asked them to do and produce for us last year, but that’s the sign of progress too,” Campbell said.
If you run through our lists of bubble players, they are littered with players who made meaningful contributions to last year’s team: Craig Reynolds, Godwin Igwebuike, Shane Zylstra, Tom Kennedy, Quintez Cephus, Anthony Pittman, Josh Woods, AJ Parker, Bobby Price, and C.J. Moore, just to name some.
It’s clear Campbell thinks this roster is in a better place right now, but it’s not clear exactly what that roster is going to look like for Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Here are a few other quotes from Campbell’s presser that may have hinted at some of the looming decisions for Detroit. Read between the line at your own peril.
On Chase Lucas:
“We like Lucas. Just what he’s been able to do. He’s a pretty smart kid, and he’s got a lot of energy, a lot of passion. But he’s one of those guys we’re talking about right now, ‘What do we do?’ But I would say there’s nothing that’s been disappointing about what he’s done to this point.”
On the possibility of seeking a quarterback from another team or waiver wire:
“I think the best way to answer it is whoever is out there, you have to know it’s a clear upgrade from what’s already in this building—would be the best way to say it. Because if it’s not, then why would you do it?”
On positions they’ll be looking at on the waiver wire:
“I would say everything’s available. We’re looking. Anywhere where we feel like we could upgrade since we’re two on the (waiver wire) claim list, we’re looking.”
On Godwin Igwebuike’s lack of preseason snaps:
“I think we have a real good feel of what Godwin can do because we got a full season of it last year and so, we have a real good grasp of that. And so, then it was let’s give (Lions WR Maurice) Alexander an opportunity, let’s give (Lions RB) Craig (Reynolds) an opportunity, let’s give (Lions RB Justin) Jackson an opportunity last night.
On any standouts in the kick return battle:
“I thought Jackson and Craig yesterday both had good returns, now there was a couple of penalties that make them look real good. But I think both of those guys showed that they have the ability to get what’s there and so that’s a starting point.”
On the upcoming decision whether to take Jerry Jacobs off PUP or not:
“That’s another one that we’re talking about, and that’s a tough one, because if we don’t PUP him, that’s a spot, and we don’t see him being ready for Philly, so that’s another one up for debate.”