The Detroit Lions have some significant roster decisions looming next week. As they approach the final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, the team has as much talent as they have at any point under the reign of Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes. They’ll be forced to move on from guys who will have fruitful careers with other teams, a far cry from two years ago when the Lions were searching for such players on the waiver wire.
There are plenty of position battles still ongoing; who will you be watching closest?
Question of the day: Which Lions player will you be watching closest in the preseason finale?
A few players immediately come to mind. Julian Okwara, king of the preseason, likely finds himself on the outside looking in. Matt Nelson may be supplanted by Germain Ifedi’s positional versatility. Starling Thomas and Steven Gilmore will have to continue putting on a show for what’s likely a single cornerback spot that’s primarily special teams. All of these will have my attention, but one player in particular will have my eye.
My answer: Jason Cabinda. It’s still very unclear if, let alone how much, a fullback will have a role in the offense this year. If the preseason has been any indication, not much, and Cabinda hasn’t exactly helped his case with an ugly drop against the Giants and again against the Jaguars. Plus, the Lions have experimented with Brock Wright in the past, and may continue to do so if fullback will be a low-volume position in the offense.
However, Cabinda is a core pillar of this team. For years he has been a staple on special teams as well as a cornerstone of the locker room culture in the face of turmoil. He’ll need to lean on that special teams skillset to push the Lions to keep him around.
Whether there’s even a spot available is a whole other discussion. The Lions notably lost Josh Woods to the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason. They did, however, bring back Jalen Reeves-Maybin. With how well JRM has played though, he may primarily see defensive snaps. Then there’s the case of Anthony Pittman, who has had a quiet preseason. It’s all very much up in the air.
Friday could be a pivotal moment in shaping the Lions’ linebacker/special teams units. Cabinda will need to lean on the role he carved out back in his linebacker days to stick to the roster, and may need help from the circumstances of others as well.