2021 Detroit Lions roster bubble watch, Week 3: Defense

Pride of Detroit

The Detroit Lions have returned a couple of linebackers this past week and the battles are starting to heat up at the second level. At the same time, injuries have created opportunities along the defensive line and in the secondary, allowing bubble players to make their case for the 53-man team.

Here’s a look at how the staff at Pride of Detroit is currently viewing the roster, including some thoughts on the players who have seen some recent movement in our confidence levels.

Detroit Lions Bubble Watch Week 3: Defense

Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Erik Schlitt John Whiticar Jerry Mallory TOTAL Change from last week
Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Erik Schlitt John Whiticar Jerry Mallory TOTAL Change from last week
DT John Penisini OUT IN IN IN OUT IN IN IN 7 -1
DT Kevin Strong IN OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT 0 0
DT Da’Shawn Hand IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 +1
EDGE Austin Bryant OUT OUT IN IN IN OUT OUT OUT 3 0
EDGE Charles Harris IN IN OUT OUT OUT IN IN IN 5 -2
EDGE Robert McCray OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0
LB Shaun Dion Hamilton IN IN OUT IN IN IN IN OUT 6 -2
LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin IN IN IN IN IN OUT IN IN 7 -1
LB Jahlani Tavai OUT IN IN IN OUT IN OUT IN 5 -1
LB Tavante Beckett OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0
CB Jerry Jacobs OUT OUT IN IN IN OUT OUT OUT 3 0
CB Alex Brown OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 1 +1
CB Corn Elder IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 0
CB AJ Parker OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 N/A
S Bobby Price IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 +1
S D’Angelo Amos OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0
S Jalen Elliott OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0

New to bubble watch

CB AJ Parker (trending up, 0 votes) — The Lions are likely to keep around 10 defensive backs, and that means someone who entered camp near the bottom of the depth chart still has a chance to make it. Parker is coming off a solid week of camp, but he hasn’t convinced anyone on staff yet that he’ll crack the 53. The signing of Nickell Robey-Coleman further complicates matters for Parker.

Off the bubble

DT Nick Williams (trending up) — Despite being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Williams is having an excellent camp, hasn’t moved from his starting role, and is being hailed as a leader in the room. It would be a massive surprise if he was cut at this point.

S C.J. Moore (trending up) — Moore is not only one of the best special teamers the Lions have, but he’s been working with the second-team defense often. He’s as close to a non-starter lock as is possible this early in camp.

Trending up

DT Da’Shawn Hand (+1) — Hand seems revitalized under the new coaching staff and we are seeing flashes of his unique talent in camp once again. The primary reserve defensive tackle, Hand has been starting with Brockers (vet rest) and Williams (COVID-19) on the shelf for the time being and figures to be a factor in the rotation once they return.

CB Alex Brown (+1) — Quinton Dunbar’s extended absence (personal reasons) from the Lions has opened the door for Brown and Jerry Jacobs to get some run with the second-team defense. But even with the opportunity, there is still a large hill for him to climb to make the roster, thus his single vote amongst the POD staff.

S Bobby Price (+1) — Price’s path to the roster is all about special teams and fortunately for him, he is starting in multiple spots in the game’s third phase. All eight POD writers are on the Price train now as he continues to solidify his position on the roster.

Trending down

EDGE Charles Harris (-2) — Harris’ drop here is likely due to the return of Austin Bryant from the PUP list. The POD staff is close to split on which pass rusher they prefer at EDGE4, but Harris still holds a 5-3 advantage for now.

LB Shaun Dion Hamilton (-2) — The return of Reeves-Maybin complicates things for Hamilton, so it’s not overly surprising that he’s dipped a bit in the votes here. For now, he is still running with the second team, but he’s going to have to work to keep his spot in the linebacker rotation.

DT John Penisini (-1) — This is could end up being a numbers game for Penisini, as they are only so many spots available on the roster, and a reserve nose tackle—regardless of the upside—may have a difficult time justifying his spot. Being currently injured doesn’t help either, but the majority of the POD staff are still holding a spot for the fan-favorite.

LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (-1) — A two-week stint on the COVID-19 list put Reeves-Maybin’s spot in question for one POD writer, but now that he is back—and wasting no time jumping into the mix on special teams and defense—he’ll get a chance to re-establish himself among the linebacker rotation.

LB Jahlani Tavai (-1) — Deciding between Hamilton and Reeves-Maybin could be a difficult choice for the Lions, but if they decide they need to keep both, it could come at the expense of Tavai. Hamilton and Reeves-Maybin are stylistically better fits in the scheme, but the coaches seem enamored with Tavai’s combination of size and skill, which has led to a consistent run with the second-team defense. Still, size and skill will only get Tavai so far, and he’ll have to prove his value in the three preseason games.

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