The wait is over, the Detroit Lions will finally return to the field tonight against the Cleveland Browns. The first preseason
Here are five players that I will be keeping a close eye on tonight:
If you haven’t had the chance to make it to one of the Detroit Lions’ opener practices during training camp you are missing out on a real treat. Yeah, you’ve probably read that John Wendling has been making some plays at safety but you probably aren’t aware that he’s done all this while rocking a sweet mullet. With the health of Louis Delmas up in the air, the Lions may need Wendling to contribute on defense. That makes him a player to watch tonight, with and without his helmet.
It’s no secret that the Lions enter this season with questions at cornerback. Fears weren’t exactly put to rest following the draft when the Lions chose to use their first two picks elsewhere. However, third round pick Bill Bentley has played his way into a starting role for the preseason opener. The best case scenario is that he looks the part against the Browns and continues building momentum as the regular season approaches.
The Lions picked up Joique Bell late in the 2011 season but signed him to a two-year contract to ensure they were able to keep him into this season. It appears to be a smart move with the team’s health at running back still looking questionable. Keiland Williams got a chance to carry the ball a bit last year but didn’t show much with the opportunities, ultimately leading to the Lions reaching out to Kevin Smith. The Lions have a position battle on their hands for the end of the running back depth chart and a if training camp reps are any indication, which they should be, Joique Bell has a lead on Keiland Williams. The question as they move into action against a live opponent is, can he keep it?
Shaun Hill is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL but let’s be honest, Lions fans don’t want to see him on the field in a meaningful situation. Multiply that sentiment by however many times and it applies to Kellen Moore as the third quarterback. Still, as one of the most controversial prospects during the last draft cycle, I am very interested to see how he looks against an NFL defense. It may only be a training camp NFL defense primarily made up of players that won’t make the Browns’ final 53-man roster but it is still a step in the evaluation process of Kellen Moore. Will he look like nothing more than a camp body or a guy with enough savvy to overcome his physical limitations?
The Lions have a solid four-deep at wide receiver in Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles (when healthy) but there is still some sorting out to do after that and Patrick Edwards has a chance to stick on the final roster. He went undrafted following a highly productive career as a Houston Couger but has been one of the more impressive young players in Lions camp this year. His solid pass catching skills have translated into NFL camp and he has the ability to contribute in the return game.