The Detroit Lions won their pre-season opener against the New York Jets 23-3 on Thursday night. Before going into the breakdown, the first thing I want to say is that this is just pre-season. Players are rusty, teams played their starters sparingly, and we saw more players play that wont make the team than we did players that will make the team. That is all part of pre-season. Below are some of the highlights.
Ameer Abdullah – Remember, it was just one pre-season game, so try not to take this out of context. Abdullah looked great. He looked shifty, quick but not fast, and made the most of his carries. Yes he had a highlight reel 45 yard carry to pad his statistics, but to gain 67 yards on 7 carries is no small feat. Remember that one of the Lions greatest running backs would have low numbers per game if not for a couple of big runs per game. In short though, Abdullah proved that the hype we have heard all offseason about him may actually be true. Time will tell.
Detroit Lions Defensive Line – I will admit that I did not get to see as much from this unit as I would have liked. The short of it though is that the Lions run defense, without Fairley and Suh, appears much weaker. Tyrunn Walker and Caraun Reid are not replacements for both players. Reid, however, did show he may be able to take the starting spot next to Haloti Ngata this season. Ngata is a run stuffer and not much of a pass rusher so his absence is likely a part of the run defense’s struggles. Devin Taylor, who combined with Reid for a sack, also looked solid after an off year last season. The Lions would like him to develop into Jason Jones‘ eventual replacement. So far, he seems to be headed in the right direction.
Backup Running Backs – Theo Riddick, Dez Martin, and Zach Zenner all averaged more than 4 yards per carry, making Martin and Zenner look more like the two competing for the fourth running back spot. George Winn, who is competing with Martin and Zenner for that spot, looked bad. His special teams play is the only advantage he has over the other two at the moment and that may change if he continues to run poorly.
Backup Receivers – I really wanted to see someone emerge from the group here, and I do not think that happened. The top two receivers were Greg Salas and Golden Tate. Tate is a lock already. Salas was not even on the radar for a roster spot before yesterday’s game. Andrew Peacock, Ryan Broyles, and Lance Moore each had 2 catches. TJ Jones had one. While they all finished real close in total yards to each other, neither one proved to be a consistent target like Salas did. I will be interested to see moving forward if Salas continues to stand out or if one of these other guys takes the top spot.
While the team played well as a whole, there are some obvious concerns that need to be ironed out over the next three weeks before the regular season starts. The defensive line needs to play better as a whole. Someone needs to stand out at receiver, and the running backs need more carries to see who takes the fourth spot, if there will be a fourth spot.