Tom Kennedy took advantage of an opportunity in the Lions’ preseason opener, but could it launch him right into a 53-man roster spot?
With injuries thinning the Detroit Lions wide recever ranks just enough, Tom Kennedy was lined up to play a lot in Friday night’s preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons. And indeed he did, playing 43 snaps (tied for the most on the team, both sides of the ball).
Kennedy didn’t just play a lot against the Falcons, he produced. On 12 targets from the Lions’ backup quarterbacks, he had a game-high eight receptions for 104 yards.
After the game, head coach Dan Campbell was asked about Kennedy’s performance.
I would just say I’m not surprised. It’s Tom Kennedy. He’s dependable. That’s how he is – dependable. He’s just very dependable, that’s all he is.
Could Tom Kennedy earn a spot on the Lions’ 53-man roster?
After spending the 2020 season on the Lions’ practice squad, Kennedy played in 12 games under the new regime last season. Don’t mistake that for playing a lot (149 offensive snaps, 40 special teams snaps), but he stuck around and had a highlight play with a 75-yard touchdown pass in the season finale.
In terms of the wide receivers the Lions will keep on the 53-man roster heading into Week 1, there are four locks–Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark, Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond. Jameson Williams is at least out for the season opener, but he looks sure to stay on the NFI list into the regular season and that would cost him at least four games. Williams would not count against the 53 on the active roster until he’s taken off the NFI list.
Kennedy is most closely competing with Quintez Cephus and Trinity Benson, for what might be two 53-man roster spots (taking Williams out of the equation, and if the Lions keep six wide receivers at final cuts). Cephus is approaching two weeks out of practice with a leg injury, and Benson played Friday night (40 snaps) after not practicing earlier in the week.
Kennedy is a slot receiver who didn’t play much on special teams last year. Both things seem sure to work against him as the Lions trim down to their final roster.
But being dependable, and producing when he gets his chances, will make Kennedy a hard cut to make. Maybe he does enough to stick around, and the preseason opener was a fine start.