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5 players to watch in the Lions-Steelers preseason gam

Detroit Lions linebacker Jahlani Tavai (51) is warming up on Sunday, November 17, 2019 before her NFL match against the Dallas Cowboys at the Ford Field Detroit. (Mike Mulholland | MLive.com) Mulholland The Netherlands Mike

STATE COMMUNITY — The Detroit Lions will continue to play in pre-saison on Saturday evening, going to Pittsburgh to face Steelers.

Andre Swift’s not going to play. Nor will T.J. Hockenson, or perhaps even Jared Goff, despite Goff’s mediocre performance at the opener in practice before a rough week. And if it is indicative, even the Frank Ragnow Pro Bowl Center will not touch the field in Pittsburgh.

 

In the last two exhibitions, the Lions seem ready to empty the bench, choosing to keep the team healthy as they gaze at many bubble players fighting for their soccer lives. Here’s a peek at five of them who will be playing tonight:

 

LB Jahlani Tavai: Tavai: The Tavai choice from the second round up to the fight for a slot at the bottom of the squad is hard to paint for 28 months. According to ProFootballFocus, he was in 2019 among the five poorest line-backers of the League as a rookie, then again last season. Naturally, he was far from the only player in Matt Patricia’s defense who looked horrible. A lot of guys didn’t develop and the new staff have been attempting to reestablish trust on this side of the roster for so many of the previous months. Tavai shed over 25 pounds to also aid fit the new design, and this is evident. He moves lot better. He moves much better. The trouble is, he still doesn’t appear fit, and at the pre-saison opener he didn’t help his case by blowing a task that led to an undisputed touchdown on Buffalo.

 

The Lions will not readily give up on Tavai, and Shaun Dion Hamilton’s injury helps his prospects. However, Tavai could still have to make this team with Alex Anzalone, who signed to start with Jamie Collins, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Anthony Pittman in solid form for the backup slots.

 

WR Tom Kennedy: The tier locks at the receiver include Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Kalif Raymond, and it would be a shock if Quintez Cephus hadn’t done it. This is 5 wideouts, maybe leaving one position — if it’s — for grabs. Early in the offseason, Victor Bolden had made a decent case with it but he is now in some funk, including dropping two receptions versus Buffalo and muffling a punt. On Thursday, he had another nasty drop in practice. When Lions carry six recipients, that last position is more ready than before and Kennedy played enough days to take it into account. He’s not the fastest person, and surely not the greatest one, but the former lacrose pro has done enough to propel himself at least to the edge of a bubble — including to lead the lions in catches (four) and receiving yards (46) versus Buffalo. He should also have a long look in Pittsburgh with so many beginners sitting out.

 

DT Kevin Strong: Under Matt Patricia, the defense position slipped into disrepair, but if Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell have not restored their depths in a few months, I shall be damned. In practice, the addition to a unit returning from Da’Shawn Hand, Nick Williams and John Penisini by individuals such as Michael Brockers, Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike has actually raised the temperature. This also led people like Kevin Strong and Bruze Hector to a hard path towards the roster at the tail end of the rotation. The injuries suffered by Brockers, Onwuzurike, Hand, Williams and Penisini opened possibilities for Strong and Hector. Dan Campbell said he’s been seeking to fill the bottom of the roster with players who glowed brightly in the pre-saison, and Strong was particularly good at Buffalo, having some key stops when the starters were in the game. He still has a dogfight to make up his squad because of all the valuable assets in the position, but more nights like that, and he could only join his team.

 

QB David Blough: It looks like the Lions rely on Tim Boyle as their back-up quarterback, meaning Blough needs to do enough to convince the team that he is worth the extra roster slot. The difficulty is also that he is facing a shoulder ailment sufficiently enough to limit him to this week’s practice, requiring Detroit to add Jordan Ta’amu to support him over the next few weeks. Blough is anticipated to play one of his last chances in Pittsburgh, however.

 

RB Craig Reynolds: The surprise of the opener of the pre-saison has something to say, but he still has a lot to accomplish – and maybe not enough time to do it. Sure, that 24-yard touchdown cutback was nice versus Buffalo. And the tale does much better. This guy missed a workout flight to Detroit last week. Afterwards he was delayed twice, he arrived to Charlotte and finally came to Michigan the next day, barely hours before his training. Then Brad Holmes surprised him with his fitness, signed a contract on Thursday, then appeared one day later and began to introduce himself to his teammates on huddle before scoring the team’s only touchdown. Fantastic story. But with D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams and Jermar Jefferson sprinting away with the first three jobs, and Jason Cabinda locked up, Reynolds is not a single hit wonder before Detroit considers him regularly.

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