<
>

Mailbag: How many deep shots will Matthew Stafford take?

3h

The Detroit Lions are in the process of trimming the roster to 53 men -- and that's a roster that will likely change again between the initial 53 on Saturday and what ends up in San Diego a week later.

So while I avoided a lot of roster cut questions in this week's Mailbag (you can see my final projection), there are many other things to discuss as the Lions get ready for the season opener next weekend against the Chargers.

Have a question for the Mailbag? Use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter, email michael.rothstein@espn.com or drop a note on the Facebook page here (and feel free to follow there, too, as I'll have more discussions there during the year). Mailbags for the rest of the season will most often run Saturdays.

Now, on to your questions.

@mikerothstein: It's the preseason, so you aren't going to see a ton of shots. Plus, Calvin Johnson wasn't on the field at all during the exhibition season so that is going to limit the shots taken anyway. I don't expect the Lions to turn into an Air Raid offense or anything, but with a healthy Calvin Johnson, a more experienced Eric Ebron and a returning Golden Tate, the chances are there to take more shots downfield. It wouldn't shock me to see if the Lions take one or two more big play shots per game -- but not too much more than that.

@mikerothstein: I'm not sure at this juncture if there is an obvious answer to this. Rashean Mathis was extremely good last season and is in insane shape, so I wouldn't say there. I'm most interested to see how James Ihedigbo and Stephen Tulloch perform early this season. Tulloch has looked good coming off the ACL injury, but I want to see him get through a full game. Ihedigbo struggled at points during the second half of last season -- particularly during the Green Bay game where he was benched -- so I want to see how he performs as well. Otherwise, it is a pretty young roster for the most part. But Tulloch and Ihedigbo should still be good starters this season, so I'm not sure if there is a definitive answer here.

@mikerothstein: Yes and no. I would not be concerned that DeAndre Levy sat out either of the last two preseason games. He's a veteran who prepares well, so no sense in throwing him out there if he's dealing with any sort of injury. The bigger concern, in my opinion, has been the missed practices since there's no reason he shouldn't practice. He'll be a guy to pay attention to both Monday and Wednesday when the Lions practice. As long as he returns for one of those, your fears should be fine. If he doesn't practice Wednesday, then you should start having some concern about whether or not he'll be ready for Week 1.

@mikerothstein: Not high at all. Considering some injuries the Lions have at other positions (offensive and defensive line, possibly linebacker based on the prior question), keeping four tight ends seems very difficult to do. There's also a special-teams question in there and there are linebackers, running backs and receivers that offer more special-teams value than Joseph Fauria or Tim Wright. In my last roster projection, I kept three tight ends -- Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew ... and Wright. I'll say I think Fauria is a good player when he's healthy and will absolutely latch on somewhere else if he gets cut. Still think he has a good NFL career, whether it's in Detroit or elsewhere.