The Detroit Lions are on the verge of making their first cuts to get down to 75 players as the franchise has to get that done by Tuesday afternoon.
While a lot of the focus is on the tougher cuts next week to form the initial 53-man roster, there are questions popping up on player roles and starting spots -- as well as who is going to make the roster. We'll hit on that in this week's Lions Mailbag. To ask a question for a future mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask away in a message on Facebook.
— JonJon (@LionsFan4Everr) August 29, 2015
@mikerothstein: The answer here is probably. Thought Laken Tomlinson looked good Friday night and noticed him on a couple blocks that sprung runs for Zach Zenner. He appeared to handle himself well throughout the first half and, most importantly, the line as a whole kept Matthew Stafford standing. Couldn't always say that last season. The Lions planned on him eventually being the starter at left guard and Friday probably pushed him toward holding that role as early as Week 1.
— Brian D. (@ngatabigdeal) August 29, 2015
@mikerothstein: He'll be a backup once Joique Bell is healthy. Let's start there. Yes, Zenner has been fantastic during the preseason and has likely given himself a 53-man roster spot. But Joique Bell is still a proven starter in the league and won't be displaced or discarded easily. Plus, the Lions also drafted Ameer Abdullah in the second round and they still view him as a back who will have a major role. So Zenner's role is still likely heavily on special teams with maybe a few carries here and there. The intriguing thing could be on the goal-line. His touchdown carry Friday night was impressive and could be a role worth exploring more.
— Jared Kirtley (@JaredKirtley) August 29, 2015
@mikerothstein: Zenner yes. Greg Salas, as of now, no. But he's close. He definitely received a long look Friday against Jacksonville and put himself in position to be in the discussion for a spot. But I don't think he offers the slot role Lance Moore does or the versatility on special teams of TJ Jones or Jeremy Ross, so that's what costs him.
@mikerothstein is this the tightest year of roster calls in recent memory? So many Q's with guys like Cudjo, Zenner, Hunt and the WRs
— Denis Kelly (@DenisKelly_Real) August 29, 2015
@mikerothstein: I've only been around since 2013 -- and even then, I started covering just after cuts -- so I don't have that deep of an institutional knowledge. That said, probably. The Lions just haven't had a ton of talent in the recent past as they rebuilt from the 0-16 team in 2008. It's a good problem to have for Detroit -- and it wouldn't shock me if most of those guys you mentioned end up on the 53-man roster. Of course, every year there is a player or two who captures the attention of the fan base as a fringe roster candidate. That's part of what makes the preseason so interesting. But it's still all Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, DeAndre Levy and Glover Quin once Week 1 kicks in.
— KeViN LaNg (@Kevin_Lang20) August 27, 2015
@mikerothstein: Until Joique Bell is taken off the PUP list, yes. If that happens within the next few days -- and even if it comes as late as next Monday -- Bell is still the starter. Ameer Abdullah will have a large role in the Detroit offense this season, but if he's healthy, Bell will start the season as the starter. Of course, you should expect some sort of carry/snap split between Bell, Abdullah, Theo Riddick on passing downs and potentially Zach Zenner or George Winn in certain situations (perhaps short-yardage). Just because Bell hasn't taken in-game snaps doesn't mean he's been sitting around. The guy's running on the side daily.
— Posa (@insp3ct0rb4c0n1) August 27, 2015
@mikerothstein: Yeah, there's a chance to make room for either Jermelle Cudjo or Phillip Hunt. In my latest roster projection, I actually had the Lions cutting Webster and then slipping him on the practice squad if he slips through waivers. He's a talented player who has made strides, but he's still nowhere near refined enough to be counted on in regular season games. There's also a chance the Lions roll with Webster instead of Hunt or Cudjo as well. It is one of those discussions that should be interesting over the next week within the organization.