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Why you shouldn’t expect Detroit Lions to play starters in preseason finale vs. Panthers

After an intense practice with live tackling, don’t expect the Detroit Lions to play starters in their preseason finale against the Panthers.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Detroit Lions starters have yet to play in the preseason, and it appears it’s going to stay that way. On Tuesday morning, Lions coach Dan Campbell said that, unless something changes, the plan is to keep resting the starters through the preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers.

“I want to see how today and tomorrow goes, but I think it’s going to look very much like the first two games,” Campbell said.

There’s enough ambiguity for Campbell to change his mind there, but after watching Tuesday’s practice, I think it’s almost a certainty the Lions will not play their starters on Friday. Detroit opted to run a scrimmage that mocked an entire preseason game. Not only was there live tackling (except for quarterbacks, obviously), but the team actually went inside the building at “halftime” for 10 minutes before coming out and finishing the game.

In all, the first-team offense and defense got nine full possessions of play during the practice—likely more than they would have gotten if they had played for a half of Friday’s preseason finale.

“Whatever we feel like you could potentially lose (by skipping the preseason), which is the ultimate intensity that you get from full tackle, go to the ground, whistle blows, the blocks through the whistle, all of that—that’s what we’re trying to duplicate here,” Campbell said.

While it may seem odd for the Lions to go the entire preseason without using their starters, it’s important to remember that on top of this full-tackle scrimmage, the Lions have had two different sets of joint practices with the Jaguars and Giants to keep the intensity high.

In all, Tuesday’s practice spanned over two hours, and it certainly had its fair share of big hits, heavy collisions, and high intensity. So there shouldn’t be much worry about in terms of readiness when the team travels to Kansas City in two weeks.

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