Week 3 bubble watch: Players trending up, down on offense

Pride of Detroit

Now that the pads have come on in Detroit Lions training camp, the real evaluation of players can begin. Sure, it’s not the same as actual game experience—something we’ll finally get with Friday’s preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons—but players who tend to show up once the shoulder pads are on tend to be some of the same players who pop on Sundays.

With that in mind, it’s time to revisit the players on the Lions offensive roster bubble. While the starters on offense are essentially set in stone, there are plenty of battles among the reserves, and last week we got our first real taste of how those players can compete with fewer limitations.

Considering the first round of roster cuts are just over a week away, time is running out for some of these players.

Here is how the roster bubble is shaking out through two weeks of training camp.

Detroit Lions bubble watch: Offense, Week 3

Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Erik Schlitt John Whiticar Chris Perfett Jerry Mallory TOTAL Change from last week Last week
Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Erik Schlitt John Whiticar Chris Perfett Jerry Mallory TOTAL Change from last week Last week
QB Tim Boyle OUT OUT OUT OUT IN IN OUT IN IN 4 -1 5
QB David Blough IN IN IN IN OUT OUT IN OUT IN 6 -1 7
RB Jermar Jefferson OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 1 0 1
RB Craig Reynolds IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 9 0 9
RB Godwin Igwebuike IN OUT OUT OUT IN IN IN IN IN 6 0 6
TE Brock Wright IN OUT IN OUT IN IN IN IN IN 7 -2 9
TE Garrett Griffin OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT 2 +1 1
TE Shane Zylstra OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 1 +1 0
TE Devin Funchess OUT OUT IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 2 +1 1
TE James Mitchell IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 9 0 9
WR Trinity Benson IN OUT IN OUT IN IN IN IN IN 7 +1 6
WR Quintez Cephus IN IN OUT IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 0 8
WR Tom Kennedy OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0 0
OT Dan Skipper OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -2 2
OT Obinna Eze OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0 0
OT Darrin Paulo OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 N/A N/A
G Logan Stenberg IN IN IN IN IN OUT IN IN OUT 7 +2 5
G Tommy Kraemer IN IN IN IN OUT IN IN IN IN 8 +4 4
G Kevin Jarvis OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT 1 0 1

Quarterback

  • David Blough — 6 “IN” votes (down 1 vote)
  • Tim Boyle — 4 “IN” votes (down 1 vote)

Both backup quarterbacks continue to do themselves little favors in training camp. This week we’re in an odd situation in which both backup quarterbacks actually received fewer votes than last week. That is a direct result of our staff now almost unanimously believing the Lions will only carry two quarterbacks now.

Running back

  • Craig Reynolds — 9 (no change)
  • Godwin Igwebuike — 6 (no change)
  • Jermar Jefferson — 1 (no change)

No change at all at running back which make sense for two reasons. For one, without live tackling, it’s not very easy to fully assess running backs. Additionally, the order in reps really hasn’t changed since the beginning of training camp. Reynolds is regularly third behind the two “starters,” Igwebuike is next and Jefferson rounds things out among the trio.

That being said, I’m a little surprised Jefferson didn’t get a little bump after coach Dan Campbell said this:

“Two guys from last year that I think really had made some – to this point, made some of the biggest progress to this point is (linebacker Derrick) Barnes and Jefferson.”

Personally, I think Jefferson is closing the gap, but not enough for me to put him in yet.

New running back Justin Jackson hasn’t worked his way onto the bubble yet, as he’s not received enough reps to make an impression.

Tight end

  • James Mitchell — 9 votes (no change)
  • Brock Wright — 7 (down 2)
  • Garrett Griffin — 2 (up 1)
  • Shane Zylstra — 1 (up 1)

This week, Campbell more or less telegraphed what the Lions are going to do at tight end, saying they want three: T.J. Hockenson, someone who can block, and a hybrid blocker/receiver. He also happened to name the two who have been repping in that role the most thus far: Wright (blocking tight end) and Zylstra (hybrid). That explains Zylstra’s slight bump.

I can’t speak for the voters of Griffin and Funchess, but there are sound arguments to be made for both. Griffin has been the player most regularly replacing Jason Cabinda in the lineup as the team’s fullback. We don’t really know the severity of Cabinda’s injury, but we haven’t seen him warming up at all, so it’s time to start thinking about contingency plans if he’s not ready to go to start the season.

As for Funchess, he’s a little harder to justify, in my opinion. He did make this fantastic catch at camp this week:

But when it comes to blocking and special teams, Funchess just hasn’t shown the physicality necessary for the position.

Meanwhile, with James Mitchell finally starting some team drills, it appears there is little concern about him being fully ready for Week 1.

Wide receiver

  • Quintez Cephus — 8 (no change)
  • Trinity Benson — 7 (up 1)
  • Tom Kennedy — 0 (no change)

No real movement here, despite the injury to Quintez Cephus. Benson gets one more vote—likely due to that—but otherwise, we’re holding steady.

It’s worth noting that recently-signed Maurice Alexander has a made a solid, early impression, but much like Jackson, he’ll need to do more to make it onto the bubble.

Offensive tackle

  • Dan Skipper — 0 (down 2)
  • Obinna Eze — 0 (no change)
  • NEW TO BUBBLE WATCH: DARRIN PAULO — 0

Darrin Paulo was signed last week and had a handful of good one-on-one reps. Regardless, our staff is not buying that the Lions keep a fourth offensive tackle right now. It appears we’ve locked into Penei Sewell, Taylor Decker, and Matt Nelson as the three offensive tackles making it to the 53-man roster.

Guard/Center

  • Tommy Kraemer — 8 (up 4)
  • Logan Stenberg — 7 (up 2)
  • Kevin Jarvis — 1 (no change)

It’s a bit strange there was so much movement in this group given there were no huge developments here. But Kraemer is a position-versatile player with some starting experience, so it makes sense he leads this group. Stenberg gets a bump, too, after being part of the scrum last week.

I maintain that Jarvis is a potential dark-horse candidate for the roster. He has been mixed in with the first-team offense at times when a starter is taking a rest. Throw in the fact that Jarvis got $155,000 guaranteed on his UDFA contract, and it’s clear the Lions see something in him.

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