Analyzing Lions' special teams snap counts

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
1:30
PM ET
It is still relatively early in the preseason and, like many teams, the Detroit Lions are going to spread out their snaps among a whole bunch of players in order to get an idea of what they have and what they might still need.

But sometimes, snap counts can give an idea of who needs some work or who is getting a longer look from the coaching staff. Here's a look at special teams snaps from Saturday night -- often an indicator of players of who might fill out the back end of the roster.

These are only the players who had more than 10 percent of special teams snaps:

Travis Lewis, 13 snaps (50 percent); DeJon Gomes, 13 snaps (50 percent); Isa Abdul-Quddus, 12 snaps (46 percent); Chad Abram, 10 snaps (38 percent); Tahir Whitehead, 10 snaps (38 percent); Ashlee Palmer, 10 snaps (38 percent); Julian Stanford, 9 snaps (35 percent); Nevin Lawson, 9 snaps (35 percent); George Johnson, 9 snaps (35 percent); Brandon Hepburn, 8 snaps (31 percent); Caraun Reid, 8 snaps (31 percent); Kyle Van Noy, 8 snaps (31 percent); Corey Fuller, 8 snaps (31 percent); Travis Swanson, 8 snaps (31 percent); Montell Owens, 8 snaps (31 percent); Don Muhlbach, 8 snaps (31 percent); Jerome Couplin, 7 snaps (27 percent); Jed Collins, 6 snaps (23 percent); Steven Miller, 6 snaps (23 percent); Bill Bentley, 6 snaps (23 percent); Don Carey, 5 snaps (19 percent); Joseph Fauria, 5 snaps (19 percent); Mikel Leshoure, 5 snaps (19 percent); Jeremy Ross, 5 snaps (19 percent); Jordan Thompson, 5 snaps (19 percent); Chris Greenwood, 5 snaps (19 percent); Cassius Vaughn, 5 snaps (19 percent); Sam Martin, 5 snaps (19 percent); Nate Freese, 4 snaps (15 percent); Eric Ebron, 4 snaps (15 percent); Larry Webster, 4 snaps (15 percent); Justin Jackson, 4 snaps (15 percent); Giorgio Tavecchio, 3 snaps (12 percent); Drew Butler, 3 snaps (12 percent); Kris Durham, 3 snaps (12 percent); Theo Riddick, 3 snaps (12 percent); Darius Slay, 3 snaps (12 percent); Darryl Tapp, 3 snaps (12 percent).

Analysis: Without some context, it is tough to read into these numbers -- so let’s provide some. Lewis ran first team on both kickoff and kick return and, really, hanging onto those reps will be the only way he makes the roster. He had one solo and one assisted tackle in his 13 snaps. Gomes also ran on the first team on kickoff and kick return as well as punt return. Abdul-Quddus was not on first-team kickoff or kick return -- he was almost definitely on second team -- but was one of the outside protectors on punt return along with Carey, who is a four-part special teamer.

Palmer ran on the first-team kickoff and kick return -- a spot he’s probably running on throughout the season. Same with Whitehead and Owens, should Owens make the team. Part of Swanson and Reid’s snaps came as two of the blocking up-men in kick return. They have worked there together all of training camp.

Ross is the team’s kick and punt returner, something accentuated again by his opening kick return to midfield. Miller was his backup, but that’s mostly because the Lions were not going to risk Golden Tate back there in a preseason game or Riddick once he hurt his abs.

Of the undrafted rookies, Abram’s snap count caught my eye. He entered the game on kick return after Riddick got hurt, and the Lions are clearly taking a look at him there either as a surprise on the roster (not likely) or a practice squad guy in a pinch (likely).

There were two surprises to me on the special teams. One was Slay on first-team kick coverage. In the regular season? Sure. But I had to check twice during the Lions’ first kickoff considering his value on defense to the Lions. The second was Durham on special teams. He’s going to need to play some to make sure he’s on the roster, and he was there more than the other veteran receivers.

Michael Rothstein | email

ESPN Detroit Lions reporter

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