It’s difficult—sometimes impossible—for fringe players to crack NFL rosters, but the already long odds can become even longer when variables such as depth and competition are considered.
That’s what George Winn is fighting as he tries to make the Detroit Lions. Winn, though, has been making a very solid impression in camp and continued that theme with an excellent game Saturday night against the Cleveland Browns.
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Throughout the early part of camp, Winn has been making headlines with solid runs and big hits on linebackers and safties. Throughout it, he’s kept a consistent energy and hasn’t allowed his motor to slow down at all. Those traits constantly allow Winn, a Michigan native, to stand out above the rest much like Joique Bell did a few years back.
What Winn is going up against, though, is a stacked depth chart. Not only do the Lions have starters Reggie Bush and Bell, but the team probably wants to keep Theo Riddick around thanks to his wide receiving abilities, as well. In addition, the once-heralded Mikel Leshoure has made a name for himself again with a solid camp, meaning the position is flat out loaded.
From that standpoint, Winn will likely become a victim of the numbers game. Still, his effort Saturday in which he collected 39 yards and was Detroit’s leading rusher and third leading receiver (23 yards), was impressive. The best part about Winn’s night? No one particular play, but his reaction after fumbling late in the game. Instead of sulking, Winn went back to work and ripped off a long run on the very next series.
The best part about Winn’s night? No one particular play, but his reaction after fumbling late in the game. Instead of sulking, Winn went back to work and ripped off a long run on the very next series.
That’s exactly the type of stick-to-itiveness that NFL teams love, and the work ethic that makes late August the hardest on coaches. Even though few considered it a realistic possibility, the Lions will have a big decision to make with Winn in a few weeks time. Very likely, it will be either he or Leshoure that makes the roster if Detroit keeps four backs, but not both. The edge, at this point, would certainly go to Leshoure.
Somehow, though, the Lions might have to try and keep Winn around, perhaps making him a candidate for the practice squad. At the very least, Winn’s tough running and energetic attitude could make the entire team better while preparing, which is a valuable asset for a team with designs on the playoffs to have.
At the very least, Winn has begun to make a name for himself after bouncing around early in his career just like Bell did. With every big play and burst of energy, he’s become harder and harder to ignore.