The regular season can’t begin until the preseason ends. For the Detroit Lions, the preseason ends tonight.
The fourth regular season game is generally a snooze fest unless you’re one of those fans that really gets in to the deep battles for roster spots. I’ll choose the latter tonight.
Here are five things I’ll be looking at tonight:
1. Playing Time
Jim Schwartz has gone on the record as saying all healthy bodies will play tonight. The question is, how much? Matthew Stafford likely won’t play more than a series while other starters that have missed some time in camp might go for two. The decrease in playing time for the starters means an increase in players that find themselves deeper on the roster. Personally, I’m looking forward to watching Doug Hogue tonight.
2. Titus Young
He is one of the regulars that figures to get more playing time as he is still working his way back from a hamstring injury. Young made one catch for 19 yards last Saturday night, can he improve on that total without aggravating the injury? At what point does the coaching staff get him off the field?
3. Jahvid Best
Fans might disagree with the Lions’ decision to put Jahvid Best on the field in a meaningless game (more meaningless than the typical preseason game, I might add) but he has been deemed healthy and falls under the “healthy players will play” category. One would think a few reps wouldn’t hurt Best but it remains to be seen if he shakes out the cobwebs or ends up a little foggy.
4. Fight for Roster Spots in the Secondary
Ricardo Silva has really caught my eye as a preseason playmaker and he will likely give the coaching staff something to think about when trimming the roster down to 53 players. Special teams ace John Wendling is the man who would likely lose his roster spot in favor of Silva.
At cornerback, Chris Houston, Eric Wright and Alphonso Smith are safe while Brandon McDonald, Aaron Berry and Nathan Vasher are likely fighting for two remaining spots. I have been impressed with McDonald so far and would consider him a near-lock to make the team. I give an edge to Aaron Berry but a poor performance from him combined with a good showing from Vasher could turn the tables.
5. Punter Fight!
I had dismissed Ryan Donahue as a mere camp body at the onset of preseason play but he is providing a legitimate challenge to veteran Nick Harris. The interesting thing about this battle is that it isn’t about the punting as much as it could come down to holding. Nick Harris has been a steady holder in the kicking game although that advantage might disappear if Donahue hits the field to hold a few field goal chances tonight.