The Detroit Lions spent two days in Indianapolis practicing with guards against the Colts. There were enough game-worthy replays given to the starters during those two days that the coaching staff opted to lower the veteran’s snap count in Game 2 of preseason.
“There are going to be a lot of these guys that are not going to play in this game,” coach Dan Campbell told the media Thursday. “A number of our starters, because they’re getting the bulk of the reps, but there’s going to be a number of guys that have gotten the load here that are still going to play in this game.
“Certainly we still have a lot of battles going on, but that would be the plan for this Saturday. It’s probably like the structure of two really good days of work and now you don’t really feel like you need to go to the game with them.”
It is very difficult to predict which players will rest during the game, so for this week’s depth chart projection, we will present the list as we see it. That way, you can see who would be expected to start if it were a regular season game, and who will likely be the next player in this preseason contest.
To help you with your viewing experience, we have listed each player’s number next to their name, bold projected entrants, on italic injured players with a 50% or less chance to play, and added an asterisk* after the names of rookies.
- Jared Goff (16) – don’t expect him to play
- David Blough (10)
- Tim Boyle (12)
Last week, the Lions coaches tried to get Goff out of the game, but when he saw his fellow starters playing, he approached the coaches and asked them to start. With several starters likely to be retained this week, expect Goff to sit on the sidelines in Indianapolis.
The backup quarterbacks continue to rotate days, and it’s technically Boyle’s turn, but because he was the first in preseason Game 1, it will probably be Blough’s turn to start against the Colts.
Runner (6 + 1 injured)
- D’Andre Swift (32): Have veterans rest regularly as part of health management
- Jamal Williams (30) — co-star
- Craig Reynolds (46)
- Jermar Jefferson (28)
- Godwin Igwebuike (35)
- justin-jackson (42)
- Jason Cabinda (45), FB — puppy list
The Lions have been handling Swift’s replays throughout camp, often giving him days off, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he took Saturday off as a precaution. Williams could see starting reps in this game, but as a veteran with an established role, he could also give his reps to the reserves, who are in a battle for one or two spots on the 53-man roster.
Wide receiver (9 + 1)
- DJ Puddle (4)
- Josh Reynolds (8)
- Amon-Ra St. Brown (14)
- Kalif Raymond (11)
- Quintez Cephus (87): returned from injury this week, could still be out of the game
- Trinity Benson (17)
- tom kennedy (85)
- Maurice Alexander (15)
- Kalil Pimpleton* (83)
- Jameson Williams* (9) — non-food item listI expected stay out for at least Week 1
The starting trio may well rest, which could be a big request for St. Brown. And with Cephus still reacclimatizing due to injury, the Lions may only have five receivers active on Saturday. The remaining five receivers are under 6 feet tall but have speed under 4.5, except for Kennedy, who ran a 4.55-second 40-yard dash. Of course, that speed of time doesn’t really impede Kennedy’s production, as he led the NFL in receiving yards during the preseason that began this week. If Blough starts, he won’t be surprised if his close friend Kennedy does too.
Tight wing (6)
- TJ Hockenson (88) – has had some veteran days off
- brock-wright (89)
- Shane Zylstra (84)
- James Mitchell* (82)
- Devin Funchess (13) — injured Wednesday (stinger), missed practice Thursday
- Derrick Deese Jr.* (48)
Wright seemed to have cemented himself as TE2 after the first preseason game, and the firing of Garrett Griffin further solidifies that idea. Although Mitchell didn’t see any action in Game 1, the team still thinks of him as a tight end of the future. Zylstra and Funchess are in a battle to convince the coaching staff that there is room for a fourth tight end, which seems possible if Jason Cabinda remains in the PUP, but Funchess was injured in practice (again) and may not is available for this game.
Expected starting offensive line (14)
- LT – Taylor Decker (68) – turns veteran while recovering from foot injury
- LG — Jonas Jackson (73)
- C-Frank Ragnow (77)
- RG—Halapoulivaati Vaitai (72)
- RT — Penei Sewell (58)
- LT—Dan Skipper (70)
- LG—Logan Stenberg (71)
- C-Evan Brown (63)
- RG—Tommy Kraemer (78)
- RT—Matt Nelson (67)
- LT—Kendall Lamm (76)
- LG — Darrin Paulo (66)
- C: Brown and Kraemer each took reps here after Ryan McCollum was fired
- RG— Kevin Jarvis* (75) — injured in practice this week
- RT — Obinna Eze* (65)
Things could get a little tricky this week if the starters rest because depth on the interior offensive line is a bit lacking. Center back-string Ryan McCollum was released this week, while rookie Kevin Jarvis is injured and may not be able to play. This could force the Lions’ second-row shooting guards to pull double duty, with Kraemer filling center with the third unit and Stenberg working opposite Paulo.
Inside defensive line (6+1)
- DL — Michael Brockers (90)
- New Testament – Alim McNeill (54)
- DL – Levi Onwuzurike (91) – injured, missed practice most of last three weeks
- DL – Jason Cornell (96)
- NT — Isaiah Buggs (98)
- DL — Bruce Hector (92)
- DL — Demetrius Taylor* (62)
This group struggled in Game 1 against the Falcons, but received several glowing reports for their efforts during joint practices in Indianapolis. Things seem more open than originally thought, so this could be a very important group to keep an eye on.
EDGE Runners (6 + 3)
- Big ED—Aidan Hutchinson* (97)
- Rush DE – Charles Harris (53)
- SAM – Julian Okwara (99) – Injured, missed all this week, two practices the week before
- Big DE – Austin Bryant (2)
- Big DE – John Cominsky (79)
- SAM—James Houston* (59)
- Big DE – Eric Banks (94)
- Rush DE — Romeo Okwara (95) — puppy list
- Big DE — Josh Paschal* (93) — puppy list
Another group of positions where there are opportunities to make some noise and potentially break away on the depth chart.
Linebacker without the ball (8)
- Alex Anzalone (34)
- Malcolm Rodriguez* (44)
- Derrick Barnes (55)
- Chris Dash (49)
- Anthony Pittman (57)
- Jarrad Davis (40)
- Josh Woods (51)
- Shaun Dion Hamilton (50)
The linebacker group remains shaky in both starting determination and depth. It sure looks like Rodriguez has grabbed hold of one of the starting roles, but the pressure from Barnes and Board remains. Pittman remains the likely No. 5 linebacker because of his special teams skills and subpackage work — watch him on the rim in obvious passing situations and during the two-minute defense. Davis, Woods and Hamilton looked solid against the Falcons’ third stringer, but they’ll have to face better competition to stay in contention.
- Amani Oruwariye (24)
- Jeff Okudah (1) or Will Harris (25)
- bobby price (27)
- frame gilbert (29)
- Saivion Smith (19)
- Cedric Boswell* (35)
- Jerry Jacobs (39) — puppy list
The competition between Okudah and Harris continues, though it’s worth noting that Okudah’s name came up a lot this week at joint practices. The battle between reserves is also an open competition, and with probably only one spot open, this is another major defensive battle.
- A. J. Parker (41)
- Mike Hughes (23)
- Chase Lucas* (36)
Hughes was moved inside based on his use in the first preseason game and during practices, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get some reps outside this week. After dropping an interception in game one, Lucas got some redemption earlier in the week and, if he can continue to rack up positive days, he could move up the depth chart.
Security (5 + 1)
- Tracey Walker (21)
- DeShon Elliott (5)
- Ifatu Melifonwu (26) – injured, missed practice for the last two weeks
- Joseph Kerby* (31)
- CJ Moore (38): Things have been slow coming back from injury, only special teams work
- juju hughes (33)
With Melifonwu likely out and Moore slowly reintroducing himself to team drills after returning from injury, we could see a lot of Joseph and Hughes this week.
kick team (4)
- P-Jack Fox (3)
- LS – Scott Daly (47)
- K: Austin Seibert (19) or Riley Patterson (6)
The kicking battle continues. Here’s a look at the kick results so far (green = hit, red = miss):
- Punt Return — Kalif Raymond (11)
- Reserve PR: Maurice Alexander (15), Kalil Pimpleton (83), Amon-Ra St. Brown (14)
- Kick Return: Godwin Igwebuike (35)
- Reserve KR: Trinity Benson (17), Maurice Alexander (15), D’Andre Swift (32)
The Lions will continue to give players opportunities to get Raymond and Igwebuike out of their spots, but both should feel pretty comfortable based on what we’ve seen.
Kick Coverage Specialists
- Kickoffs: Austin Seibert (19) or Riley Patterson (6)
- Starter—Jack Fox (3)
- Gunner — Bobby Price (27), Ifatu Melifonwu (26), Trinity Benson (17), AJ Parker (41)
- Personal Protector (PP) — CJ Moore (38), Tracy Walker (21)
Kickoffs will play a factor in the kicking battle, so keep an eye out for differences between kickers here.
Projected depth chart at a glance
If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a glimpse of what was discussed above: