Friday, August 15, 2014
Ten players to watch for Lions at Raiders
By Michael Rothstein
The Detroit Lions will play their second preseason game Friday night at Oakland (10 ET), and while we covered certain issues to pay attention to earlier today, there are a bunch of players to pay somewhat close attention to during the late night west coast matchup.
For all of them, a good or bad performance can mean making the team or the practice squad. Here's a primer of who I'll be focusing on (from my couch, since I won't be in Oakland, but we can chat on Twitter):
1. RB George Winn: He's made some big plays during practice and in the preseason opener. Mentioned him in the earlier preview as well, but this could be his best chance to make a strong roster push. Theo Riddick should receive some of the carries that Winn might have otherwise seen since he missed most of the first preseason game, but Winn will get a long look. At this point, he's putting together an audition tape for the practice squad and trying to unseat Mikel Leshoure. The big thing to pay attention to with Winn -- special teams. If he pops up on a first-team special teams unit, that could be a major sign for him.
2. S Jerome Couplin: The Osprey was one of the most focused-on undrafted free agents because of his wingspan and nickname. Then he went out and made some big hits during the preseason opener and has been continually popping up in practice. The Lions are clearly taking a strong look at him, as they played him with the second team defense all week. If he makes a play or two Friday night, he may start to receive real roster consideration instead of a likely practice squad spot.
3. QB Kellen Moore: He put together a strong first performance but he'll need to do it more consistently to have a real shot. Frankly, he'll also need current No. 2 quarterback Dan Orlovsky to continue to struggle as well. But with a good opening game, Moore at least put himself in some conversation for a backup quarterback position on the team. If he gets some actual time with the No. 2 offense, that'll signal the Lions may be looking at it, too.
4. WR Kevin Ogletree: He has been really strong during camp, but had a bad drop in the opener against Cleveland. He should make the roster, although having a good performance against the Raiders wouldn't be a bad thing for him to put on film just to solidify what Detroit's coaches are seeing in practice.
5. WR Ryan Broyles: Like Moore and Winn, he had a good first game and appeared to have no setbacks from his Achilles injury last season. If he's healthy, he should make the roster. If he wants to do more than that, though, another good game would certainly help him here -- especially if he wants to try and push Ogletree for the No. 3 position.
6. DT Caraun Reid: The rookie from Princeton played well in his debut, making two plays in the backfield and showing he can handle the NFL. If he builds on this -- and there is little reason to think he won't -- he could end up being a larger part of the defensive tackle rotation than initially thought. Reid's spot on the team is safe.
7.CB Chris Greenwood: If the Lions keep six cornerbacks, the final spot will be a likely competition between Jonte Green, Drayton Florence and Greenwood. Green appeared to have the initial inside path to this spot -- and then he barely played in the preseason opener. Florence remains an intriguing candidate, but hasn't played much yet. Watch the snaps here, as Greenwood might end up pushing himself into the spot. A real outside candidate would be Mohammed Seisay, but he is probably a bit too raw for a roster spot just yet.
8.Kickers: I'll put Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio in the same spot here since they are two guys competing for one job. Freese appears to have the edge right now, although Tavecchio has been more consistent in practice. At this point, Tavecchio needs to continue to hit all his opportunities and probably needs Freese to miss a few to have a shot, but he has proven himself as a NFL kicker during this camp.
9. DT Nick Fairley: How many snaps will he get? How will he play in those snaps? Fairley is the most intriguing player on the Lions right now because of what occurred in practice last week. In what is expected to be limited snaps, will a motivated Fairley show up?
10. DE Larry Webster: Like Reid, Webster made a few plays in his debut. If he continues to do that, he could end up being a rotational factor this fall instead of being a pure developmental project for the Lions. His size, speed and build could turn him into a freakish defensive end once he figures everything out. Between him, Devin Taylor and Ezekiel Ansah, that could three high-caliber ends in a season or two.