10 Detroit Lions players who are on the roster bubble – MLive.com

ALLEN PARK — Cut day isn’t easy. It isn’t easy for the teams that have to tell 27 men their dream has ended. And it sure as hell isn’t easy for the players who are told their dream has ended, at least for now.

It’s a normal part of the circle of life in the NFL, but that doesn’t make things any easier for anybody. Detroit stands at 80 players right now (including Austin Bryant), and must be to 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday.

“To be honest with you, I hate it,” Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia said this week. “It’s the worst. You invest in these guys, they invest so much in you, and we’re trying to come together as a team and we’re building and we’re competing, and you love these guys that you’re coaching every single day. That tough reality of what this weekend is — it’s brutal, to be honest with you. In the back of my mind, I just have to understand that I’m going to do what’s best for the team.”

The Lions enjoyed a nice camp, especially on offense. The receiver group looks especially deep, and it’ll be interesting to see what Detroit intends to do there. The same goes for quarterback, where Matthew Stafford has been fabulous, Chase Daniel was paid good money to back him up, but David Blough has played even better in a reserve role. Do they keep all three? Or do they try to sneak Blough to the practice squad, but expose him to waivers?

The talent isn’t as deep on defense, but there were some good battles anyway. The calls at cornerback will be especially tough, where there wasn’t much daylight separating a whole lot of players.

Here are 10 guys who are riding that roster bubble heading into cut day:

QB David Blough: On the one hand, he looks much improved from when he went winless down the stretch last season. In fact, there were several days where he was better than Chase Daniel. The Lions traded for him last year and have put a lot of time into developing him. They don’t want to lose the QB after all that. Then again, Daniel isn’t going anywhere either because of that three-year, $13.1 million contract he just signed. He’s in. So it really comes down to whether Detroit believes it can stash Blough on the practice squad without losing him.

RB Bo Scarbrough: Detroit wanted to run the football last year, but nobody could do it especially well. Then Bo Scarbrough came along, and suddenly they had some juice. Scarbrough went from the practice squad to rushing for 301 yards in his first four career games, the best debut by a Lions running back since Billy Sims. In a terrible year for Detroit, Scarbrough’s emergence was one of the best developments. There’s still a need in 2020 for his big, bruising style too. The problem is the injuries. He’s struggled with them before, and barely practiced in training camp because of another. With D’Andre Swift fighting off a nagging leg injury and Kerryon Johnson taking every precaution with his knee issues, Detroit might not be able to carry another banged-up back with uncertain availability. Then again, when healthy, Scarbrough has been better than Ty Johnson. It’s a tough decision. Scarbrough was the toughest cut I made on my final 53-man roster projection.

RB Ty Johnson: Kerryon Johnson, D’Andre Swift and Jason Huntley are safe in the backfield. I think Detroit will carry Jason Cabinda as a fullback too. That leaves Johnson, Scarbrough and Jonathan Williams fighting for one or maybe two jobs. I think ultimately the Lions carry Johnson because of the injury thing, but Johnson never did much with his opportunities last year, while Scarbrough did. This is just a tough spot for Detroit. It wouldn’t a surprise to see Johnson make the initial roster, but for the Lions to continue looking for more power in the backfield once cuts are made around the league.

WR Jamal Agnew: He’s only here because he’s the new guy in perhaps the deepest receiver rotation in the league, and the return jobs are not locked in yet. So, technically, he’s on the bubble. But it would be a pretty big surprise if Agnew isn’t with Detroit on Sept. 13. He’s just so fast, so elusive, and so good with the ball in his hands. Danny Amendola, Marvin Hall and Quintez Cephus will split the majority of the slot snaps, but I think Detroit will find something for Agnew to do too. I just don’t think the Lions should be in the business of cutting good players.

TE Matt Sokol: The former Michigan State standout has been impressive since strapping on pads, especially as a pass-catcher. And the Lions could always use more pass-catchers at the position behind T.J. Hockenson and Jesse James. Isaac Nauta, a seventh-round pick last year, is probably the leader for the third gig, but don’t underestimate Sokol’s chances either. At worst, he’ll make the expanded practice squad.

OL Kenny Wiggins: He played a lot at guard last year, even rotating in for Graham Glasgow in that weird three-man rotation. I never liked it, but the Lions clearly love what Wiggins brings to the table given their efforts to get him onto the field. He also can play tackle, and versatility will be more important than ever in the era of corona. Then again, Wiggins is coming off a season-ending pectoral injury and has repped behind Oday Aboushi for much of camp. I think Wiggins is more likely to make the team, but his usage in camp indicates Detroit might prefer Aboushi. Of course, it’s also possible both guys are in if Detroit is willing to go with nine offensive linemen. But that might make it tougher to carry a third quarterback.

DT John Penisini: Late-round picks are always a roll of the dice, and Penisini didn’t exactly light up training camp. Still, he’s probably Detroit’s best run-stuffer behind Danny Shelton. This is another one of those spots where Detroit could look to fill the job on the waiver wire.

LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin: JRM seems to make this list every year, but finds a way to stick the landing. It’s not that complicated either. While he’s limited as a linebacker, he’s terrific on special teams. But Detroit has completely overhauled its special teams schematics under first-year coordinator Brayden Coombs, and brought in a lot of new guys to try out. JRM probably remains safe, but like so many guys who make their hay on special teams, his spot on the roster isn’t exactly sewn up. The linebacker room is also getting crowded with guys like Jarrad Davis, Jamie Collins, Jahlani Tavai, Christian Jones, Reggie Ragland and Miles Killebrew, the latter of whom is another special teams standout who is likely to make the team.

CB Darryl Roberts: There isn’t much daylight among the cornerbacks behind Desmond Trufant, Amani Oruwariye, Justin Coleman and Jeff Okudah. Tony McRae, Mike Ford and Darryl Roberts all bring something a little different to the table. McRae has experience playing for Brayden Coombs on special teams and has looked like the best slot corner behind Justin Coleman, so I think he’s in. Ford has experience in Detroit, but is a little banged up right now. Roberts has repped ahead of Ford and Dee Virgin in camp, but is banged up too.

LS Steve Wirtel: In the words of Omar from “The Wire,” you come at the king, you best not miss. Wirtel came for Don Muhlbach, the longest-tenured player in Detroit, a guy who has played in more games for the Lions than everyone not named Jason Hanson, and Wirtel came at him hard. There were days where he looked better. But that special teams operation is all about comfort and repetition and having pin-point timing. And with so little time to practice this offseason, look for Detroit to opt for the known commodity here. Wirtel has proved himself though, and could land on that expanded practice squad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *