The Detroit Lions are halfway through their preseason schedule and players are starting to emerge either as surprise candidates for roster spots or surprisingly on the roster bubble.
The Lions gained some game evidence against Cleveland and even more against Oakland on Friday as first cuts loom in less than a week.
Here are some players who stood out -- positively or negatively -- on offense and special teams against the Raiders:
Quarterback Matthew Stafford: Looked completely comfortable running the offense and already developed rapport with Golden Tate along with Kris Durham. He also had a good amount of time to throw, but he was extremely accurate. It’s a small, small sample size, but if Stafford can play like this in the regular season, he could have a big year. When he was blitzed, he hung in the pocket and made the throw. The only miss was an incomplete pass that hit off Reggie Bush’s hands on a screen.
Running back George Winn: Good job on special teams with a couple of tackles. Was often the first one down the field trying to make the play. Thought he ran powerfully and didn’t hesitate at all. He at least knew where he was going to go, even if there wasn’t really a hole there. The only criticism of Winn was a drop on his only target of the night.
Wide receiver Kris Durham: Had a nice touchdown grab and had to time the ball well to jump over the defender. The Lions have multiple players who do this well -- Calvin Johnson and Joseph Fauria being the others -- but Durham has made a habit of this. He has pulled off a similar type jump-and-grab multiple times during camp. He also looks like he’s playing more comfortably and confidently this season.
Wide receiver Ryan Broyles: Another good game with good yards after the catch. The explosiveness that he said he was waiting for seems like it is starting to return as well. Two straight strong games for him and he has put himself in a good position to lock up a roster spot.
Right guard Larry Warford: He’s really picking up where he finished last season. The Lions backs really seem to like running behind him because he’s always able to create at least some crease. He also did well in pass blocking, throwing his man in at least one situation. More, he finishes almost all of his blocks crisply.
Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle: Not his best night. Was beaten badly by Justin Tuck on a run play leading to a tackle for loss early in the second quarter. The next play, he was pushed into the backfield on a screen. He seemed to be pushed around a little bit in there -- not typical for him. Anyone who played right tackle Friday night had some issues, from Waddle to Hilliard to Garrett Reynolds. Combined, according to Pro Football Focus, rushers next to the right tackle had four carries for minus-5 yards.
Interior lineman Travis Swanson: Unimpressed by Swanson on Friday. Got beat pretty badly early in the second quarter, allowing Dan Orlovsky to get hit. Had a false start during the two-minute drill to end the first half. He didn’t snap a ton from what I could tell, but he didn’t have issues when he did, so that’s some improvement.
Guard Rodney Austin: Rough day for him. Got beat on a run play during the Lions’ two-minute drill in the first half that resulted in a bad tackle for loss. Also gave up a bad sack to Orlovsky to force a long Nate Freese field goal. Austin saw the man coming and looked him off. Possibly a miscommunication, too, with Theo Riddick, who came across the formation to block the same man Austin ended up focusing on.
Kicker Nate Freese: The operation on the extra point looked fine from the holder and snapper. So it appeared Freese just pushed it. This seems to have been an issue throughout camp. He had no pressure and plenty of distance, though, on his 55-yard field goal. Massive recovery for him, but also shows some of his inconsistency.