Detroit Lions stock watch: David Blough outshines Tim Boyle in battle for backup QB job

Detroit Free Press

Three Detroit Lions who helped and hurt their stock in Friday’s 27-23 preseason-opening loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field:

Stock up

WR Tom Kennedy

With Quintez Cephus and Josh Johnson out with injuries and the Lions pulling their starters early, Kennedy played most of Friday’s final three quarters, an ironman’s worth of snaps for the preseason. He made his playing time count, too, catching a game-high eight passes for 104 yards in his bid for a backup job. “I mean, that’s Tom Kennedy,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “He’s just dependable. That’s all he is, he’s just dependable.”

TE Devin Funchess

Funchess has largely blended into the crowd in training camp practices and seemed to be a forgotten man in the battle for playing time at tight end, but he made a few noteworthy plays Friday. The ex-Michigan football star caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Tim Boyle late in the first half and had two catches for first downs in the fourth quarter. He broke a tackle on the first of those grabs and hurdled a defender on the second. He still might be a long shot to make the roster, but he showed Friday he has something to offer as a player.

LIONS OBSERVATIONS FROM FRIDAY: Starting OL as good as advertised, running QBs may be an issue

QB David Blough

Blough made a crucial mistake late in the game when he fumbled a snap with a chance to run out the clock on a Lions win. That error led to Atlanta’s game-winning touchdown, but that play aside, I thought Blough outplayed Tim Boyle in their battle for the No. 2 quarterback job. Blough finished 18 of 28 passing for 141 yards. He extended plays with his feet and infused the third-string offense with energy in his quarter and a half of work.

Stock down

QB Tim Boyle

Campbell said he was not displeased with the play of either of his backup quarterbacks, and Boyle did some good things in his quarter-plus of work. He finished 9 of 16 passing for 111 yards and dug the Lions out of a penalty-infused third-and-12 early in the second quarter with a bomb to Kalif Raymond. But with the Lions looking at keeping only two quarterbacks, Boyle was inaccurate with too many throws Friday, including a bad interception early in the third quarter when he threw a jump pass behind Kalif Pimpleton.

CB Cedric Boswell

This might be a little unfair to Boswell, an undrafted rookie who got plenty of reps at outside cornerback and looked largely capable in his NFL preseason debut. Boswell had blanket coverage on Tyshaun James when he broke up a Desmond Ridder pass in the fourth quarter. But he also gave up the game-winning touchdown on a scramble play, when he got boxed out for position by converted quarterback/lacrosse player Jared Bernhardt. For a young player fighting for a roster spot, that play will gnaw at him for a long time.

Defending running QBs

Ridder (six carries, 59 yards) and Marcus Mariota (3-23) ran for a combined 82 yards Friday on a combination of designed bootlegs and scramble plays. On one hand, that’s not totally surprising given the lack of game-planning the Lions did for the Falcons. On the other, it crystalizes an area of concern for the Lions less than a month out from their regular season opener against another mobile QB, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts. The Lions’ attacking defensive front could be susceptible to quarterback runs, and with questions at linebacker, it’s an area they have to clean up in a hurry.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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