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Sunday, August 24, 2014
Lions defensive player thoughts vs. Jaguars

By Michael Rothstein

For the majority of Detroit's starters, the next time they'll see the field is on "Monday Night Football" next month. Their work is over and their roster spots are secure.

Against Jacksonville, a lot of those starters got enough time to actually show where they are as well. Here are some thoughts on some of the Lions' players on defense against the Jaguars.

Linebacker Tahir Whitehead: He played very well from sideline to sideline. He covered well on slot receivers and when he needed to chase rushers. He played extremely focused early on.

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley: He looked better than he has in the first two games and seemed to get a better jump and better pressure on the offensive linemen against the Jaguars. He was also held noticeably (but it wasn’t called) on at least one play in the first quarter. Fairley also got good pressure on Blake Bortles in the third quarter as well.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh: The roughing the passer penalty will get most of the attention, but he had his typical consistent game. He played well and shed blockers consistently to be around plays and to make them, but the roughing call was legitimate. It also didn’t help that Suh appeared to lower his head as he was running into Chad Henne.

Defensive end George Johnson: More good pressure for him again. He might be having the most impressive preseason of any Detroit Lions player -- certainly of any player who is tenuously trying to win a spot on the roster. He has good burst off the line to beat the opposing tackle.

Defensive end Devin Taylor: His athleticism remains his best attribute and it helps him when Detroit has him drop into coverage. He batted down -- almost intercepting -- one Henne pass and jumped to almost get his hands on another one in the first half. He also has good pass-rush skills, as he was able to break the line to pressure the quarterback more than once.

Defensive end Larry Webster: Another week, another decent performance from Webster, who once again was able to pressure the quarterback. Here’s the caveat -- he’s doing it mostly against guys who won’t make 53-man rosters. That said, the Lions took three defensive developmental projects in May in cornerback Nevin Lawson and Webster in the fourth round and defensive tackle Caraun Reid in the fifth round. Of the three, Webster appears the most ready to contribute, followed by Reid, who could have a role on special teams and as Detroit’s fourth defensive tackle.

Cornerback Chris Greenwood: He might make the Lions, but he's just been the best of a very mediocre back-end group at cornerback more than anything else. He was beaten pretty easily by Allen Hurns for a touchdown to continue an inconsistent preseason. He handled himself well against Oakland in the second preseason game but appeared to struggle against the Jaguars. That isn’t much different than Jonte Green, whom he might be competing with for a roster spot. More and more, depth at corner feels like an issue for Detroit and also a place where the Lions are going to study the waiver wire after both rounds of cuts.

Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus: He got the start when James Ihedigbo sat and handled himself well in a fill-in situation. Abdul-Quddus got good pressure on a safety blitz and almost intercepted a Bortles pass during the two-minute drill at the end of the first half and then a tipped ball in the second half. He’s been around the ball whenever he’s played in the preseason.

Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio: Adding one special-teams player here. It felt like he had a lot of the momentum entering Friday night’s game against Jacksonville. Then he missed a 51-yard field goal against the Jaguars and his battle with Nate Freese continues to turn. Such a tough battle to call.