Normally, younger players tend to get a pass in this league and always have a shot at landing on the practice squad if they can’t make an immediate impact. The same cannot be said for veteran players who are on the bubble looking to extend their professional career by making the final 53-man roster for their respective team.
The Lions have a few veterans who find themselves on the outside looking in, or vice versa, and will need to step things up if they want to stick around any longer.
Disclaimer: I restricted this list to players who are entering their fourth year or later.
Durham hasn’t been awful throughout camp by any means, but he hasn’t made a strong case on why he deserves a spot either. If guys like Jeremy Ross, Kevin Ogletree and Corey Fuller weren’t having such a great start to camp, then maybe Durham wouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for him. If Durham wants to remain on this roster, he will need to find some consistency holding onto the ball, and also make some noise in the preseason.
Within the past week, the Lions have signed two tall receivers (Andrew Peacock and Jon Baldwin) to compete at the wide receiver position. Could this mean that the Lions are trying to generate a competition for Durham and Fuller as outside WRs for depth purposes?
Owens had a strong showing during training camp last year and was given a two-year deal worth $2.5 million.
The Lions had high hopes for the special teams ace and hoped he could also contribute in the backfield. Those hopes were shattered after Owens suffered an injury and was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return. Shortly after returning, Owens fell to another injury that ended his season.
The fullback position has re-emerged for the Lions, and Owens could serve that role and/or have a chance to find his niche as the 5th running back on the roster.
With Theo Riddick and Mikel Leshoure having such strong camp performances so far, it’s time for Owens to step up his game and earn a spot or he could be considered a cap casualty.
At fullback, Owens will have to beat out both Jed Collins and Chad Abrams. Collins has a slight advantage due to his history with Lombardi and the Saints’ offense, and Abrams is likely a practice squad candidate at this point.
Fluellen is now on his third stint with the Detroit Lions. After lining up primarily as a defensive tackle for all of his career, he has now made the transition to end with the Lions revamped defense.
Still, there are a lot of names emerging as training camp stars at DE like journeyman George Johnson, Larry Webster and Devin Taylor.
Fluellen faces a steep climb to reach the glorified 53-man roster.
Like Durham, Palmer hasn’t done anything tremendous to hurt his stock, but he falls victim to others outperforming him.
Guys like Darryl Tapp and Tahir Whitehead have already started to make their presence known, and even Brandon Hepburn has made some splashes here and there while Palmer has looked nearly invisible.
There’s still plenty of opportunities for Palmer and he’s probably a favorite to make the team right now as he’s splitting first-team reps with Kyle Van Noy, but if he continues to be stagnant on defense he could find himself on the hot seat. It doesn’t help that the new defensive scheme doesn’t really fit his skill set compared to the old one either.
According to our very own Kent Platte, Don Carey is not having a very good start to training camp. The Lions made it clear that they wanted Carey to be apart of their future plans after extending him through 2016, but if he doesn’t perform up to their standards, don’t be surprised to see his name among the final cuts.
Carey is much better in run support than he is in coverage, and the Lions are already loaded with safeties consisting of similar skill sets.