Stock watch: Teddy Bridgewater, backup DBs shine, but kicker still a concern after misses

Detroit Free Press

CHARLOTTE – The Detroit Lions got their last good look at a slew of bubble players in Friday’s 26-17 preseason win over the Carolina Panthers. On Saturday, they’ll begin the process of cutting their 91-man roster to 53. Here are players who helped and hurt their stock with their performance against the Panthers.

Stock up

Teddy Bridgewater

Bridgewater had some rust to knock off after signing with the Lions in early August, and still does, but he looked much more comfortable in Friday’s preseason finale than he did in last week’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bridgewater played the entire first half Friday, completing 13 of 22 passes for 178 yards with a long touchdown to Antoine Green. “He was in a good spot, he was in a flow,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “He had great command of the offense, and so it’s just, there again, time on task under our system and it was good to see. I thought he made some good throws today.”

Cory Durden

Durden probably will find himself on the practice squad after rosters are set next week, but the undrafted rookie out of North Carolina State had an impressive game, playing much of the second half. Officially, he finished with two solo tackles and one assist, but he had a big hand in two of the Lions’ fourth-quarter sacks, including one where he drove Panthers tackle Larnel Coleman back into his quarterback with one hand, and he did it playing somewhat out of position at defensive end. The Lions are high on both their UDFA defensive linemen, Durden and Chris Smith.

Bubble DBs

The Lions have a couple of back-end spots open in their secondary, and the three leading candidates for those jobs – Chase Lucas, Khalil Dorsey and Steven Gilmore – all played well Friday. Lucas made a diving interception in the end zone, had a breakup on a pass over the middle, and another pass deflection off a slot blitz. Dorsey forced a fumble and had a 62-yard kick return, after not taking a kick return rep in two years. And Gilmore had his second interception in as many weeks. All three should sleep well knowing they had a strong finish to the preseason.

MORE ON CHASE LUCAS: Detroit Lions’ Chase Lucas has won Dan Campbell’s heart. Can he win a roster spot, too?

Stock down

Nate Sudfeld

Sudfeld appeared to hyperextend his knee on his only series Friday, when he crumbled to the ground while trying to avoid a diving tackle on the Panthers’ sideline. Campbell indicated Sudfeld could miss time with his injury, and that could throw a wrench in the Lions’ plans at quarterback. The Lions are too deep to keep an injured third quarterback, with Hendon Hooker already due back later this fall. That could leave them with two choices: place Sudfeld on injured reserve and end his season, or release him with an injury settlement, which would prevent him from immediately re-signing to the practice squad.

Lions Ks

Riley Patterson made field goals of 25 and 27 yards Friday, but missed an extra point wide right and left a 53-yard field goal short off the crossbar, amplifying concerns about his leg strength. Campbell said Patterson simply had a “rough” day, but as comfortable as he insists he is with the Lions’ kicking game, the position still feels like a question mark heading into the season. Parker Romo did not kick for the second straight week and appears to be on the wrong side of the roster bubble.

Brodric Martin

A third-round pick out of Western Kentucky, Martin closed the preseason with a whimper after stringing together a couple nice days to catch everyone’s attention early in camp. He had one tackle in each of the Lions’ three preseason games and was quiet Friday aside from drawing one holding penalty on a Panthers lineman in the fourth quarter. With Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike, Isaiah Buggs and Benito Jones ahead of him on the depth chart, Martin could be inactive as a developmental prospect early in the season.

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

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