Saturday, August 16, 2014
Observation Deck: Detroit Lions
By Michael Rothstein
A week ago, the Detroit Lions came from behind in the final minute to beat the Cleveland Browns by a point.
On Friday night, the Lions' rookies and third stringers watched Oakland do the same thing to Detroit. Coverage lapses from the Detroit secondary on the final drive spoiled a game the Lions otherwise played well in as the Raiders beat Detroit 27-26.
The Raiders appeared to pick on cornerback Jonte Green during the final drive, throwing at him multiple times -- an interesting challenge for a cornerback trying to make Detroit's roster. Tough to tell if the game-winning touchdown catch was a soft hole in the zone or a mistake from either Green, Nate Ness or linebacker Brandon Hepburn, all of whom were around the play.
Here are some other thoughts from the Lions' second preseason game:
- George Winn is getting some heavy consideration now. He ended up on the first team kick coverage and punt return. He also made two tackles in the first half on kick coverage. His way onto the roster was always going to be special teams and he's clearly making an impact. He also ran well again in the backfield and scored a touchdown in the third quarter.
- I liked what I saw out of the defensive line early on. Much better pressure than a week ago against Cleveland. George Johnson, a fringe roster candidate who got the start, had two pressures on Matt Schaub and later another on Derek Carr. Unfortunately for Johnson, he was later flagged for a 12 men on the field penalty on a field goal block unit. Larry Webster also had a really strong pressure late on Carr.
- Rookie Caraun Reid got a lot of time with the first unit today. Didn't do quite as much as last week, but good experience for him as he's going to have to be part of the rotation this fall.
- Decent day for Rashean Mathis. Had a pass breakup on an interception on the first drive and then read a curl from Schaub well in the second quarter to break up another pass. It is only the preseason, but he is still playing as Detroit's No. 1 cornerback.
- The kicking competition should continue. Nate Freese made a 55-yard field goal with a lot of room to spare, but missed an extra point, further accentuating how much more consistent Giorgio Tavecchio has been in camp. Tavecchio made his short field goal attempt in the fourth quarter. If Jim Caldwell is going to go by the results and data as suggested, Tavecchio should be leading this competition, although Freese's long field goal might close the gap.
- Theo Riddick didn't do much in the opener after suffering an abdominal injury, but he had the best screen of the preseason. He caught the ball and cut across the field, making multiple Raiders miss during a 36-yard gain where he probably ran about 50 or 60 yards.
- Dan Orlovsky looked much better this week, completing 8 of 12 passes for 153 yards. He looked more like the veteran backup you'd want than he did a week ago, when Kellen Moore outplayed him. He made smart reads and appeared much more comfortable in the offense.