Bubble watch, defense: Players who helped, hurt their cases vs. Falcons

Pride of Detroit

On Monday, we talked about the ever-shifting roster bubble on the offensive side of the ball. The breakout performances of guys like Devin Funchess and Tom Kennedy in the preseason opener certainly had us rethinking the ways the Detroit Lions may use their roster spots on the skill positions.

But how much did Friday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons change our opinions of the defense? It wasn’t a very good game from the defense, and it’s much harder to point to individual performances from defensive players that may have rocketed a player’s chances at landing on the 53-man roster prior to Week 1 of the regular season.

Nevertheless, our staff took their best guesses on which bubble players on defense will end up making the final roster. Here’s how those predictions have shifted after Friday’s preseason opener.

Previous Bubble Watches: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

Bubble Watch Week 4: Defense/ST

Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Erik Schlitt John Whiticar Chris Perfett Jerry Mallory TOTAL Change from 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
DT Jashon Cornell IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 9 0
DT Bruce Hector OUT IN IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 3 +3
DT Demetrius Taylor OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT 1 -6
DT Isaiah Buggs IN OUT IN OUT OUT IN OUT IN IN 5 +2
EDGE James Houston OUT OUT IN OUT IN OUT OUT OUT IN 3 0
EDGE Austin Bryant IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 9 0
EDGE John Cominsky IN OUT OUT OUT OUT IN OUT OUT IN 3 +3
LB Jarrad Davis OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT IN IN IN 4 -1
LB Josh Woods OUT OUT IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 1 +1
LB Shaun Dion Hamilton OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -1
LB Anthony Pittman IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN OUT 8 -1
CB AJ Parker IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 9 0
CB Mike Hughes OUT IN IN OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT IN 3 -4
CB Chase Lucas IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 9 0
CB Bobby Price IN OUT OUT IN OUT IN IN IN OUT 5 +4
CB Mark Gilbert OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0
S C.J. Moore IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 9 0
S Brady Breeze OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 0
S JuJu Hughes OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0 -1

Defensive tackle

  • Jashon Cornell — 9 “IN” votes (no change)
  • Isaiah Buggs — 5 (up 2)
  • Bruce Hector — 3 (up 3)
  • Demetrius Taylor — 1 (down 6)

There’s been a lot of shifting at the defensive tackle position, but this seems like more of a reaction to no one standing out among this group. Among this group of interior defenders, everyone but one graded 60.5 or lower, according to PFF.

The one exception was Demetrius Taylor, who has had a solid camp and earned a 73.4 PFF grade. So why the huge drop this week? Well, Taylor didn’t play until very late in this game, and he saw just 10 defensive snaps.

His votes were basically split between Isaiah Buggs and Bruce Hector, which speaks to a philosophical problem the Lions are facing with their depth. Do they need more three-tech type of depth (Cornell, Hector) to help weather the Levi Onwuzurike injury story? Or do they need someone like Buggs to give Alim McNeill some relief?

Edge defender

  • Austin Bryant — 9 (no change)
  • James Houston — 3 (no change)
  • John Cominsky — 3 (up 3)

Cominsky sees the only shift among this group, as he continues to provide very solid play. He’s been disruptive amongst the second team in practice, and he scored the third-highest PFF grade among Lions edge defenders (70.6, behind Aidan Hutchinson and Anthony Pittman). Cominsky also represents the Lions’ best one-to-one replacement for second-round rookie Josh Paschal, who remains on the PUP list and seems likely to stay there when the season starts.

Linebacker

  • Anthony Pittman — 8 (down 1)
  • Jarrad Davis — 4 (down 1)
  • Josh Woods — 1 (up 1)

Jarrad Davis had a wildly inconsistent game—which is perhaps the most consistent thing about him. He proved to be a weapon as a pass rusher, logging a team-high three pressures, and he got a pass breakup to boot. But he also continues to really struggle to read his keys in run defense. Our staff still feels that he’s about a 50/50 shot to make the roster.

Josh Woods didn’t play until late in this game, but he was one of the more dependable linebackers on the day. He had a nice pass breakup on a deep ball and added two run stops to his resume. Given that he also was a four-phase special teamer on Friday, Woods is perhaps a dark horse candidate to make this roster. He certainly helped his case more than just about anyone on defense, but he still clearly has work to do.

Cornerback

  • AJ Parker — 9 (no change)
  • Chase Lucas — 9 (no change)
  • Bobby Price — 5 (up 4)
  • Mike Hughes — 3 (down 4)
  • Mark Gilbert — 0 (no change)

It’s hard to say exactly why this was the week Mike Hughes took a big drop in favor of Bobby Price. Neither player had a notable game on Friday, considering the Falcons didn’t throw the ball very much. My best guess: because Chase Lucas looked so good in his six defensive snaps, the Pride of Detroit staff is likely warming up to the idea that Lucas is ready enough to be the primary nickel backup, making Hughes less essential to the roster. Then it becomes a special teams battle. Hughes and Price are both very capable special teamers, but Price has been doing it longer.

Safety

  • C.J. Moore — 9 (no change)
  • JuJu Hughes — 0 (down 1)
  • Brady Breeze — 0 (no change)

Because of the injury to Brady Breeze on the opening kickoff, we got a good long look at both JuJu Hughes and third-round rookie Kerby Joseph. Clearly, the staff wasn’t too impressed with Hughes, who finished with just a single tackle.

Kicker

  • Austin Seibert — 9 (up 2)
  • Riley Patterson — 0 (down 2)

Both kickers were perfect on Friday, with Seibert making a 46-yarder and Patterson connecting from 28 and 27. Seibert continues to show he’s a better long-distance kicker, though. Campbell’s admission last week that Seibert was holding the slight lead was enough to convince the entire staff that he will end up making the roster.

Articles You May Like

3 reasons Ben Johnson will regret not leaving the Lions for a head coaching job this year
Aidan Hutchinson named Defensive Rookie of the Year finalist
Notes: John Cominsky named free agent Lions can’t afford to lose
USFL must deliver on promise of good value if it wants fans to stick with it in Detroit
Notes: 2023 Pro Bowl game details revealed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *