The preseason is important for a lot of reasons. It’s an opportunity for teams to get their players ready for the regular season, coaches can start getting the game day routine down, and rookies can get their feet wet.
But no one has more riding on the preseason than the players on the roster bubble or those even further down the depth chart. The preseason is an opportunity to show that when the lights come on, you’re a competitor. And you’re not just showing the team you play for, but you’re putting the game tape out there for any team scouring the waiver wire after team cut downs.
The Detroit Lions have plenty of players who need to showcase their talents during these games, so today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Lions player improved their roster chances the most vs. the New York Giants?
My answer: I’ll give out three.
Julian Okwara — Quite possibly the game’s MVP, Okwara’s three sacks were a good reminder of just how much talent the former third-round pick has. Granted, a lot of his production came against the Giants’ third stringers, but Okwara can only perform against the players lined up against him, and that’s exactly what he did.
Personally, I still have him on the outside looking in, because Okwara needs to be more consistent and for that kind of performance to be the norm. But I truly believe he’s closing the gap against someone like James Houston.
Levi Onwuzurike — No one really knew what to expect of Onwuzurike when he surprisingly avoided the Physically Unable to Perform list to start training camp. It’s been a slow start for the former second-round pick, as the Lions purposely have been easing him into the lineup. But with most of the third-team defense, Onwuzurike proved to be reliably disruptive—and more importantly—he came away uninjured after a healthy amount of playing time (22 snaps). He earned the second-highest PFF grade of any Lions player on Friday.
Chase Cota — Cota is still a relative long-shot to make the roster, but not only did he lead the team with 60 receiving yards on four catches, but if you happened to be watching the alternate broadcast of the game, Lions general manager Brad Holmes fawned over Cota. With Detroit’s receiver depth a bit of a question right now behind their top four, Cota could be digging into the roster chances of fellow undrafted receiver Dylan Drummond.