Going into their final preseason game as the Buffalo Bulls, many people weren’t expecting to see a lot from Detroit Lions, considering this was basically the last chance for a number of Lions players to make something happen and solidify their role on this upcoming Lions team.
Nevertheless, despite the starters not playing much, I think it is safe to that the rookies and reserves stole the show. Not only did they surprise a lot of people, by shutting out and winning the game against Buffalo with a final score of 23-0. They also surprised many fans by providing plenty of star quality type highlights and great competitive play on the both sides of the ball, leaving plenty of people on their edges of their seat, as we wait to find out who will be kept and let go.
Let’s start with the offensive standouts.
Kellen Moore Continues to Show That He Is A Diamond in the Rough
Offensively, it was all about quarterback Kellen Moore who threw for 172 yards and two touchdowns, while completing sixty percent of his passes. Now I don’t know about you but I am not surprised about Moore’s great game against the Bills, to be honest, I’m never shocked by Moore’s great play. He may be considered the third-team quarterback for the Lions, but I have said from the beginning that the Lions have a very under the radar quarterback in Moore. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Moore is the next great quarterback or anything but not to long ago I said, if he was given an opportunity, he could surprise some people.
I don’t know about you but I am happy to see Moore performing well in camp and during preseason play. After finishing his stellar college career at Boise State with 14,667 passing yards and 142 touchdown passes and ranking among the top quarterbacks in college football history, I always felt Moore got the short end of the stick by going un-drafted.
I know at 6-feet and 200 pounds, many scouts considered him to be too small to play the position in the NFL, and doubts still remain about his arm strength. However, none of those things, change the fact that Moore is a traditional drop-back passer, who can fit into a pro-style offense and make accurate throws under pressure. Plus, he is a highly intelligent quarterback. I don’t know if Moore will ever see the field for Detroit or any other team but I think he has shown that in a very short amount of time, that he can succeed and lead an offense if given the opportunity.
Fuller and Broyles Continue to Shine at WR
Now beyond Moore’s great play, there were also a few other offensive standouts, starting with wide receiver Corey Fuller, who registered three grabs for 48 yards and a touchdown. I don’t know about you but going into this game, there was never a doubt in my mind that Fuller had a chance to make this team, after the solid preseason he has had. After seeing him in action in this game, I think it is safe to say that he can and probably will make this team.
Like I said in my previous article, Fuller has changed and he has changed for the better. At 6-foot-2 and 196 pounds, Fuller is already a truly a gifted athlete, that brings speed and explosiveness out of his cuts, making him a weapon as a receiver. However after watching him in this game and back on film, you can see that Fuller has worked on tracking the football down and learned how to come away with the contested catch and it has shown throughout his entire preseason play.
Keep in mind that Fuller isn’t the only young receiver who is stepping for the Lions. I also have to give credit to Ryan Broyles, who continues to be known for being ahead of the first down marker. If you think I’m exaggerating, just go back and look at Broyles’ preseason film. I guarantee you that almost every catch that he had made, has led to a first down if not more. Although you may not be impressed with his preseason stats since he hasn’t score a touchdown, you should know that Broyles has garnered eleven catches for 149 yards. While those stats may not seem impressive, keep in mind that Broyles has continued to do a great job of catching the ball on a consistent basis but more importantly, he has done a good job of creating yards after the catch, helping the Lions to gain multiple first downs in every preseason game, which is something the Lions have lacked in the past.
Overall, I have been very impressed with both Fuller and Broyles and while I’m sure Broyles has solidified his position on the team, it remains to be seen about Fuller’s future with the Lions. My hope is that he makes the team.
Who won the RB battle between Winn and LeShoure?
After the impressive performances of Broyles and Fuller, I think I have to go to the running back battle between running backs George Winn and Mikel LeShoure. I don’t know about you but if you ask me, Winn has won the running back battle, to be honest, he has been winning the running back battle all preseason long. Don’t get me wrong, I do like LeShoure but it doesn’t change the fact that Winn is the better running back at this point for me.
For starters, unlike, LeShoure, Winn, has continued to be a play-maker for the Lions both on the offense side of the ball and in special teams.
Then if you look back at his preseason stats you will see that Winn has gathered 161 all-purpose yards, not to mention two rushing touchdown which is why at this point, I think it’s safe to say that Winn is just pure play-maker. The only knock against Winn at this point, would be his two fumbles during preseason play but beyond that he has shown that if you put him in the back-field at running back, he has the power, vision and burst to make plays but we also know that if you put him on special teams, he has that same great ability to make plays and be an accurate tackler. Like I said, he is a play-maker, but then again what do you expect from a former University of Detroit-Jesuit High School product.
Nevertheless, just like Fuller, it remains to be seen whether Winn will make the Lions 53-man roster or be sent to the practice squad. If I’m the Lions, he makes the 53-man roster because if he goes to the practice squad, I think there is possibility that another team will attempt to snatch him up and I don’t know about the Lions, but I wouldn’t risk that happening.
The Secondary Battle Reaches New Heights
Now on the defensive side of the ball, I must say I was really impressed with the competitive edge of the secondary. At safety, it was all about the competition of Isa Abdul-Quddus and Jerome Couplin. However before the game was over, safety Nate Ness had also slid himself back into the conversation. At this point, I think it is safe to say that all three players have had a good preseason and all three bring different qualities to the safety position. However, that doesn’t change the fact, that all three players won’t make the 53-man roster, which makes you wonder, who will the Lions keep.
When it comes to Abdul-Quddus, I feel he has brought the ability to make consistent reads and good hands to the secondary. Despite dropping an easy interception against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Abdul-Quddus has earned two interceptions during preseason play and both of those interceptions have been because of his good reads, which stands out to me. Then if that’s not enough, he has also been a solid contributor on special teams, making it hard for the Lions not to find a role for him.
As for Jerome Couplin, I have always been impressed with his game, for the main fact, that he brings some good hard-hitting to the secondary. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Couplin already has great size for the safety position but he brings good skill. On the field, he is heavy hitter who squares into his opponent and wraps up which is plus for me, considering so many young players have a bad habit of throwing their shoulder instead of wrapping up their opponent and taking them down. Besides his great tackling, I also love the fact that he is a very instinctive safety, who makes good reads. In coverage, he has shown that he has the fluid movement and technique to going sideline to sideline but he has also shown that he has the ability to make plays in the middle of the field. Plus, his long arms give receivers and tight ends plenty of trouble in coverage.
Now when it comes to safety Nate Ness, I must say that I think he has does a nice job of sliding himself into this conversation late. If you look back his overall preseason play you will see that he has racked up two interception, along with a few impressive tackles. Although, I still think there is chance for him to make the team, I have to admit I have been more impressed the play of Abdul- Quddus and Couplin, which is why I think they should be considered for the 53-man roster over Ness. Again, don’t get me wrong, I like Ness but I think Abdul-Quddus and Couplin both add to the Lions secondary right now and I also think they can be developed in players for the future. However at the end of the day it is not up to me, so only time will tell when it comes to who will be picked for the 53-man roster and the practice squad.
After the battle of the safety, I would also say lookout for the battle of the cornerbacks. Both Mohammad Seisay, who had an interception in this game and Chris Greenwood had solid performances throughout preseason play and training camp. I think it will be interesting to see if the Lions keep both or only of them.
LB Ashlee Palmer Steps Up His Game
After the competitive battle in the secondary, I think you have to look at the linebacker, in particular you have to look at linebacker Ashlee Palmer.
By now everyone knows that Palmer has not had a good preseason. In fact, in the Lions third preseason game against the Jaguars, linebacker Tahir Whitehead got the starting nod over Palmer and after an impressive performance from Whitehead in both camp and preseason play, many began to question whether Palmer would make the team.
Well he apparently heard the all talk about his future, because he came into the final preseason game against Buffalo, with a vengeance knocking down everyone and everything in his path. Not only was he was a tackling machine, racking up multiple tackles but he also took down Buffalo wide receiver Sammy Watkins and running back Bobby Brown. Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not happy to see two young players like Watkins and Brown go down with an injury after a hard hit. However that doesn’t change the fact that Palmer did a good job of being physical in this game and taking his opponents down without being vulgar and gaining penalties.
I don’t know if he will beat out Whitehead for the starting spot at strong-side linebacker but he has certainly made the conversation interesting again.
At the end of the day, I was very happy with the performance of the Lion. There was plenty of competition and standout plays and what I love most is the fact that they got the win while competing and having fun.
Now, we just have to wait and see who will be kept and who will be let go. One thing’s for sure, coach Caldwell and his staff certainly have some hard decisions to make.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
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