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Detroit Lions roster bubble watch: Tough decisions at WR, OL ahead

After an ugly preseason game, the Detroit Lions are facing some difficult roster decision on offense. We make our predictions for the roster bubble players.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On Saturday, the Detroit Lions were likely hoping to get some sort of clarity on the offensive position battles. Unfortunately, the team’s offense was at its worst against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The quarterback play was inconsistent, the offensive line clearly wasn’t gelling together, receivers were dropping passes, and the unit just couldn’t find a rhythm.

After the game, coach Dan Campbell admitted it can be hard to evaluate players when everything is going wrong, but at the same time, they did find some things out.

“When offensively one guy messes up it’ll mess the whole thing up and it’s rarely do you ever come out on the other side,” Campbell said. “So, we had a couple protection issues, our runs we were—we had a couple of I.D. issues, we weren’t cut off on the backside you’re getting some TFLs in there, second-and-longs just trying to run the ball, couldn’t convert, had a lot of drops, lot of drops. So, it’s tough, but hey, there again we did find out about some guys too.”

Our staff did their best to evaluate the Lions players on the roster bubble on offense and make our predictions as to who will make the 53-man roster.

Here is Bubble Watch, Week 4: Offense edition.

Detroit LIons Bubble Watch, Week 4: Offense

Player Jeremy Reisman Erik Schlitt Ryan Mathews Hamza Alex Reno John Whiticar Morgan Cannon TOTAL CHANGE
Player Jeremy Reisman Erik Schlitt Ryan Mathews Hamza Alex Reno John Whiticar Morgan Cannon TOTAL CHANGE
QB Nate Sudfeld OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -1
RB Benny Snell OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0
RB Jermar Jefferson OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT 1 -2
RB Craig Reynolds IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 7 0
FB Jason Cabinda IN IN OUT OUT IN OUT IN 4 -1
WR Antoine Green IN IN IN OUT IN IN IN 6 0
WR Trinity Benson OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0
WR Maurice Alexander OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -2
WR Dylan Drummond IN IN OUT OUT OUT IN IN 4 +1
WR Chase Cota OUT OUT IN IN IN OUT IN 4 +4
OT Matt Nelson OUT IN OUT IN IN OUT IN 4 +1
OT Obinna Eze OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -1
OT Germain Ifedi IN IN IN IN OUT IN IN 6 0
G Colby Sorsdal IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 7 0
G Kayode Awosika IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 1 0
G Darrin Paulo OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0

Quarterback

  • Nate Sudfeld: 0 “IN” vote (down 1)
  • Off Bubble Watch: Adrian Martinez (0 votes)

After just a week on Bubble Watch, Adrian Martinez is back off it. The Lions made their intentions with Martinez abundantly clear on Saturday night when he rode the bench the entire afternoon. He’s essentially fighting for a spot on the practice squad.

The question remains here whether the Lions will keep a third quarterback. I thought after a rough debut from Teddy Bridgewater someone may be willing to go that route, but as Nate Sudfeld continues to struggle on his own, it’s hard to justify a roster spot for him.

Running back

  • Craig Reynolds: 7 votes (no change)
  • Jermar Jefferson: 1 vote (down 2)
  • Benny Snell: 0 votes (no change)
  • Off Bubble Watch: Mohamed Ibrahim (waived/injured)

Last week, Justin Jackson dropped out of the competition. This week, it’s Mohamed Ibrahim. While Ibrahim has an opportunity to return to Detroit if he clears waivers and agrees to an injury settlement, his journey to make the initial 53-man roster is over.

With the competition dropping week-by-week, our staff is starting to come around to the idea of only keeping three backs on the 53-man roster—with that player unanimously being Craig Reynolds. While Reynolds wasn’t exactly electric against the Jaguars, he did play the entire first half, which is likely telling where his position on the team currently stands.

Tight end/fullback

  • Jason Cabinda: 4 votes (down 1)

Jason Cabinda had another drop on Saturday, which is clearly starting to bug our staff. The majority of us still have him in, though. He’s an essential piece to their special teams and still the only player who has taken fullback reps in camp or the preseason.

Wide receiver

  • Antoine Green: 6 votes (no change)
  • Dylan Drummond: 4 votes (up 1)
  • Chase Cota: 4 votes (up 1)
  • Maurice Alexander: 0 votes (down 2)
  • Trinity Benson: 0 votes
  • Off Bubble Watch: Denzel Mims (waived/injured)

With Denzel Mims out of the competition and Maurice Alexander sidelined since his punt return touchdown last week, our staff is uncertain as to who will win the WR5 job. Interestingly enough, despite the lack of clarity between Dylan Drummond, Chase Cota, and Antoine Green, everyone but a single staffer has the Lions keeping at least six receivers going into the season. That makes sense, as the Lions will need to compensate for keeping only three running backs by adding some receivers who can contribute on special teams. Of this group, Green has played the most on special teams thus far.

Offensive tackle

  • Germain Ifedi: 6 votes (no change)
  • Matt Nelson: 4 votes (up 1)
  • Obinna Eze: 0 vote (down 1)

Last week, I asked Campbell about the offensive tackle positional battle, and he called it wide open.

“Nelson and Ifedi are just going back and forth,” Campbell said. “I thought Nelson’s had a pretty good camp, but I think Ifedi played pretty good in this game last week, and he’s played a lot in this League. Eze’s really come a long way, there again it’s just about the consistency and getting reps and playing. So, I think it’s very much open, it’s open and they’re competing for that spot.”

That seems to bury Eze’s chances, and it’s more-or-less a 50/50 shot with Ifedi and Nelson. The two swapped sides last week, with Ifedi playing left tackle and Nelson playing right. But neither stuck out in a good or bad way during the preseason game.

Perhaps the bigger question here isn’t whether Ifedi or Nelson will win the job, but whether the Lions will keep both—a third and fourth offensive tackle—or a sixth interior offensive lineman. That leads us, too...

Guard/Center

  • Colby Sorsdal: 7 votes (no change)
  • Kayode Awosika: 1 vote (no change)
  • Darrin Paulo: 0 votes (no change)

There were no changes in votes this week on the interior offensive line, but there was quite a bit of movement here with the team. While it appeared Kayode Awosika, Colby Sorsdal, and Darrin Paulo were the favored depth when it comes to reps, the Lions opted to give Brad Cecil and Bobby Hart early opportunities against the Jaguars and moved Sorsdal from right to left guard. However, the interior offensive line was so bad on Saturday, neither Cecil nor Hart worked their way onto the bubble this week. Sorsdal gets a pass for being a rookie who has shown promise as a run blocker.

It will be interesting to see who gets second-team reps in the final preseason week against the Carolina Panthers.

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