- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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The third preseason game is often considered the closest to resembling the regular season NFL teams will come to until contests actually start in September.
With the starters playing into the second half in most cases, snap counts can also give an indication of who is still fighting for a roster spot, who has one wrapped up and who might have played their last game as a Lion against Jacksonville on Friday.
Here’s a peek and some analysis on the defensive snap counts:
Devin Taylor 29 snaps (38 percent); George Johnson 28 snaps (37 percent); Jason Jones 25 snaps (33 percent); Darryl Tapp 23 snaps (30 percent); Larry Webster 17 snaps (22 percent); Kris Redding 16 snaps (21 percent); Ezekiel Ansah 11 snaps (14 percent).
Analysis: Ansah got about what he should have snap-wise, as he returns from shoulder surgery. Saw some action, mostly in pass-rush situations, but not as a three-down end yet. Johnson played particularly well and received a long, long look. His play in games the past two weeks has put him in good position. Webster’s snaps came late in the game, but when he was in, he placed good pressure on quarterbacks.
Ndamukong Suh 29 snaps (38 percent); Caraun Reid 22 snaps (29 percent); C.J. Mosley 20 snaps (26 percent); Xavier Proctor 19 snaps (25 percent); Jimmy Saddler-McQueen 18 snaps (24 percent); Nick Fairley 16 snaps (21 percent); Greg Hickman 16 snaps (21 percent); Andre Fluellen 15 snaps (20 percent).
Analysis: Suh got his starter’s reps and played well, as usual. Mosley and Fairley essentially split snaps with the first unit, while also rotating some for Suh. Fluellen’s snaps came both at end and at tackle, but against third-stringers. The Lions continue to work Reid in as they have to get him ready as the team’s likely fourth tackle.
Tahir Whitehead 41 snaps (54 percent); DeAndre Levy 41 snaps (54 percent); Stephen Tulloch 41 snaps (54 percent); Travis Lewis 25 snaps (33 percent); Ashlee Palmer 22 snaps (29 percent); Julian Stanford 11 snaps (14 percent); Brandon Hepburn 10 snaps (13 percent); Shamari Benton 2 snaps (3 percent).
Analysis: Whitehead played almost the entire game and was very effective in his start at SAM linebacker with 10 tackles and three sacks. He proved, at worst, that he is a flexible linebacker who can play a fourth backer role if needed. Kyle Van Noy missed the game due to injury and both Palmer and Lewis received a lot of second team snaps. But Whitehead stood out throughout the night. Massive game from him.
Darius Slay 41 snaps (54 percent): Rashean Mathis 37 snaps (49 percent); Chris Greenwood 24 snaps (32 percent); Bill Bentley 21 snaps (28 percent); Cassius Vaughn 19 snaps (25 percent); Aaron Hester 19 snaps (25 percent); Nevin Lawson 16 snaps (21 percent); Jonte Green 10 snaps (13 percent).
Analysis: Greenwood’s snaps continue to be consistent on the second team as the fourth outside corner behind Slay, Mathis and Vaughn. He was beat badly for a touchdown, though. Hester saw second team snaps, too, and Green played with the deep reserves like against Oakland, but came away with an interception. Not a great sign for Mohammed Seisay, as he received only one rep -- and it was on special teams.
Analysis: The Lions didn’t have their usual safety depth with starter James Ihedigbo sitting for rest, DeJon Gomes out with a neck injury and reserve Don Carey suffering a hamstring injury and missing a chunk of the game. Abdul-Quddus did well in Ihedigbo’s place and might have increased his standing for a roster spot. Couplin also did fairly well, but picked up a personal foul.