Detroit Lions stock: UDFA CBs Thomas, Gilmore help roster chances — for different reasons

Detroit Free Press

Dan Campbell doesn’t like to lose, even in the preseason. But even he acknowledged the most important thing to come from Saturday’s 25-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field were the evaluations the Detroit Lions got on players fighting for roster spots.

“I felt like we found out about a few guys today,” Campbell said.

Not everything Campbell learned was positive, and with six days left in NFL training camp, that could doom some players in their fight for a job. Here is a look at several players who on Saturday helped or hurt their roster chances ahead of the Aug. 29 cut day:

Stock up

DE Josh Paschal

Paschal is locked into a roster spot, so he’s a little different than some others on this list. But I thought he was a bright spot in a pretty good overall day by the defensive line. Paschal had two nice rushes on Jacksonville’s first full series of the second quarter: He beat Cam Robinson to spill a tackle-for-loss into James Houston’s lap, and two plays later split a sack with Benito Jones. Houston also had a sack among four tackles for loss as the Lions’ depth up front showed.

CB Steven Gilmore

Gilmore’s day was far from perfect. The Jaguars challenged him repeatedly in man coverage, and he got beat for a long pass on second-and-11 when he was late making a play on the ball. But the undrafted rookie from Marshall had a nice pass breakup on a third-and-9 play near the goal line four plays later, and intercepted a C.J. Beathard pass late in the first quarter after a Tracy Walker deflection. Campbell lauded Gilmore for his resilience, saying “those are the type of players you want.”

CB Starling Thomas V

The Lions’ other undrafted rookie cornerback, Thomas makes this list for what he showed as a kick returner. He returned the opening kick 32 yards from his own goal line and had a 37-yard return in the first quarter. He has played as the Lions’ No. 3 cornerback all training camp and should be active on game days. If he can win the kick return job left vacant by Justin Jackson’s surprise retirement, that will enhance his value.

Stock down

C Brad Cecil

The Lions lost backup center Ross Pierschbacher to injury against the Giants, leaving Cecil to handle most of the center reps Saturday. Cecil, an undrafted rookie from South Florida, was beat by Jeremiah Ledbetter when Teddy Bridgewater fumbled a handoff to Craig Reynolds, and allowed another pressure by Ledbetter on a third-and-6 incompletion. Cecil, who has had occasional snap problems in camp, was a longshot to make the 53-man roster coming into the game and his struggles Saturday push him further down the bubble.

LIONS OBSERVATIONS: QBs Teddy Bridgewater, Nate Sudfeld struggle in loss to Jaguars

S Ifeatu Melifonwu

Melifonwu can’t stay healthy, and as the old adage goes, availability is some of the best ability in the NFL. Melifonwu left Saturday with an undisclosed injury and Campbell said both he and fellow backup safety Saivion Smith look like longshots to play in Friday’s preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers. The Lions have four capable safeties in C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Kerby Joseph, Brian Branch and Tracy Walker. It’s possible they keep five, and Melifonwu has special teams value. But the value doesn’t do much good if he can’t stay on the field.

Lions backup WRs

With their top five receivers sitting due to injury or rest, Campbell said this was a “great opportunity” for one of the Lions’ young receivers to go out and win a roster spot. That didn’t happen as none of Dylan Drummond, Chase Cota, Antoine Green or Trinity Benson caught more than two passes, and all four missed chances to make splash plays. Cota had a nice punt return, so maybe he inched ahead of the rest of the group, but he couldn’t get a second foot down on what would have been a tough catch on the sideline, Drummond had one drop and Benson had a fade ball knocked through his hands when he didn’t high point the pass.

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

Articles You May Like

Jared Goff compares successes with Rams to Lions tenure
Detroit Lions Emerging As Top Suitor For Big Free Agent Cornerback
Chris Spielman reveals the Brad Holmes ‘villain’ story
Three underrated defenders for the Lions defense
Dan Campbell urges Lions to avoid ‘Ron Burgundy’ syndrome: ‘We can’t just read off the teleprompter’

Leave a Reply

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