The Detroit Lions will have a new punter, the same old long snapper, and a bunch of linebackers and wide receivers on their roster when they open the 2020 season against the Chicago Bears next week.
The Lions set their 53-man roster Saturday and did so with only a few mild surprises.
For subscribers: Analyzing the moves: Why they already cut one of their 2020 draft picks
They waived rookie running back Jason Huntley, a fifth-round pick, and kept Bo Scarbrough and Ty Johnson as backups. They cut third-string quarterback David Blough with hopes of keeping him on the practice squad. They brought Don Muhlbach back for a 17th season as long snapper and cut undrafted rookie Steven Wirtel. And they’ll open the season with six wide receivers and eight linebackers on their roster, but only eight offensive linemen.
The Lions are expected to re-sign one of the veteran offensive linemen they released Saturday, Oday Aboushi or Kenny Wiggins, when they place someone — perhaps undrafted rookie tight end Hunter Bryant — on injured reserve.
Bryant has missed nearly two weeks with a hamstring injury that’s expected to cost him at least the first few weeks of the regular season. He shined as a pass catcher early in camp, and had the Lions put him on IR Saturday, they would have had to cut him when healthy or hold him out for the entire season.
More on Lions: David Blough waived; going with 2 quarterbacks on 53-man roster
Huntley, a fifth-round pick, was the only one of the Lions’ nine draft picks placed on waivers Saturday, though he’s likely to return on practice squad if he goes unclaimed on waivers.
Sixth-round pick John Penisini made the roster as the Lions’ sixth and final defensive lineman, and seventh-rounder Jashon Cornell is on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles early in training camp.
Teams have until noon Sunday to claim players placed on waivers by other teams. The Lions, by virtue of last year’s 3-12-1 record, are third in the waiver order.
The Lions, after touting their depth at the receiver position all camp, kept six players at a position that is the strongest on the team. Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola project to starting roles this fall, with Jamal Agnew, Quintez Cephus and Marvin Hall as backups.
Along with receiver, the Lions went heavy at linebacker and in the secondary, where potential special teams contributions played a big factor in final roster decisions.
At linebacker, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Elijah Lee won backup jobs as special teams standouts, while C.J. Moore, Miles Killebrew and Mike Ford did so in the secondary. Ford is one of seven cornerbacks on the Lions’ roster
Muhlbach withstood the most significant challenge of his career from Wirtel, and he’ll have a new punter to snap to this fall: Jack Fox, who beat out undrafted rookie Arryn Siposs for the job.
Both Wirtel and Siposs could return on the practice squad.
Every move the Lions made Saturday
Waived: G Beau Benzchawel; QB David Blough; WR Victor Bolden; DE Will Clarke; S Jalen Elliott; DT Frank Herron; RB Wes Hills; DT Albert Huggins; RB Jason Huntley; WR Tom Kennedy; WR Chris Lacy; TE Isaac Nauta; LB Anthony Pittman; S Bobby Price; DT Olive Sagapolu; P Arryn Siposs; TE Matt Sokol; DT Kevin Strong; CB Dee Virgin; DT Kevin Wilkins; RB Jonathan Williams and LS Steve Wirtel.
Released: OG Oday Aboushi; G Kenny Wiggins.
Waived-injured: OT Dan Skipper.
Reserve/PUP: DE Austin Bryant.
Reserve/Suspended: S Jayron Kearse.
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