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Breaking down the second wave Detroit Lions practice squad signings

The Detroit Lions confirmed another set of players for their practice squad. Let’s break down each of their game .

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Detroit Lions started building their 2023 initial practice squad on Wednesday, announcing 10 of the 17 players they are allowed to roster. NFL rules allow teams to have a 16-player practice squad, but because of the Lions involvement in the NFL’s International Player Pathway program, they are allowed an extra spot.

In our breakdown of those initial 10 practice squad players, we included a reported 11th player, Zonovan Knight, a move that was acknowledged by the Lions on Thursday. In addition to confirming Knight, the Lions announced another five players, bringing the total number on the practice squad up to 16, leaving one spot remaining open.

Of the initial 10 players added to the Lions practice squad on Wednesday, all were with the Lions roster at some point this offseason. While all six players added on Thursday came from different organizations—though there is one familiar face who will be returning to Allen Park.

Let’s take a closer look at the next five players added to the practice squad.

QB David Blough

Blough signed with the Cleveland Browns after going undrafted out of Purdue in 2019, but the Lions traded for him at the end of that training camp, beginning a three-year stint with the organization. Over those seasons, Blough played in seven and started five games for the Lions, but failed to win the backup quarterback job in 2022.

Despite the Lions wanting Blough to return to their practice squad last season, he opted to join the Minnesota Vikings for a fresh start. Eventually, he was poached from their practice squad by the Arizona Cardinals and started two games for them down the final stretch of the season. After being released at cutdowns, the Lions once again tried to get Blough on their practice squad—this time succeeding.

Blough returning to the roster may not move the needle for a lot of Lions fans but he has a lot of the skills the coaching staff is looking for in a practice squad quarterback. Blough’s already up to speed on the playbook, so there will be little-to-no acclimation process. As the practice squad quarterback, he will be part of the scout team that helps prep the team for gameday, where his mobility on the field and understanding of what the Lions want to accomplish in practice will be an asset.

WR Daurice Fountain

Drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft by the Colts, Fountain played in just six games over his first three seasons in the league, as multiple season-ending ankle injuries shortened his opportunities. In 2021, Fountain joined the Chiefs and played in two games that season. In 2022, he made the Chiefs practice squad but was eventually released and he moved on to the Bears practice squad. He stayed with the Bears through this year's training camp but was released at cutdowns and joined the Lions.

As a big-bodied receiver (6-foot-2, 210), Fountain fills the reserve WR-X role on the practice squad. He showed some promise this offseason in Chicago, catching seven of his 10 targets for 116 yards and a touchdown, and it’s possible his ankle injury issues are behind him. That being said, three ankle surgeries over his career are something to keep an eye on for his durability.

IOL Michael Niese

Niese went undrafted in 2022 out of Temple but was acquired by the Broncos and switched from offensive tackle to guard. Niese was released at 2022 cutdowns and signed with the Bears’ practice squad but opted to leave Chicago for Tampa Bay this past offseason.

While Niese has never seen the field in a regular season game, he has played in six preseason games, taking four games worth of snaps at right guard, along with single-games worth of snaps at both left guard and center.

NT Quinton Bohanna

A space-eater (6-foot-4, 360 pounds) in the middle of Kentucky’s defense, Bohanna was selected in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Cowboys. Over the past two seasons, he played in 27 games, starting 10 at nose tackle for Dallas, registering 29 tackles, including a tackle for loss and quarterback hit.

Dallas used Bohanna as a very scheme-dependent player. Against run-heavy teams, Bohanna would often see around 30-40% of snaps, while his snaps would dip closer to 10-15% against balanced teams, and no snaps against teams that like to air the ball out.

Expect that trend to continue in Detroit, with Bohanna likely being limited to the 0- and 1-technique nose tackle roles. But, because his skill set is so specific, it’s possible that he could be a game-day roster elevation, depending on their opponent.

EDGE Raymond Johnson III

Undrafted out of Georgia Southern in 2021, Johnson signed with the Giants and made the 53-man roster his rookie season. Despite making the team and playing in 15 games, Johnson was a limited participant and only registered four tackles and a sack over 166 defensive snaps.

In 2022, Johnson was released from the Giants and joined the Bengals, eventually landing on their practice squad. This year Johnson had a tremendous preseason, collecting two sacks and eight pressures over 98 snaps. His preseason PFF overall grade of 91.0 on 54 pass rushing snaps is impressive and was the third-highest grade for any NFL edge rusher this preseason.

One of the things that makes Johnson unique is his position versatility. Of his 98 preseason snaps, Johnson spent around 60% of his time as a stand-up pass rusher, while the remaining snaps were split between defensive end and defensive tackle. Johnson is nearly identical in size to the Lions Josh Paschal (6-foot-2 1/2, 265), and he could give the Lions depth at a few different edge roles.

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