Aug 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver T.J. Jones (13) runs with the ball during the fourth quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the New York Jets at Ford Field. The Lions beat the Jets 23-3. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
TJ Jones lost his entire rookie season to injury and has been dying to get on the football field ever since. Thursday was his first action since college and he made a couple good plays. He was the most effective punt returner and could steal Jeremy Ross’s roster spot if he keeps outperforming him like he has so far. He had a pretty quite night and finished with only one catch for 15 yards.
The video above shows TJ Jones most impressive punt return of the night. He displays good vision and change of direction ability as he makes a couple defenders miss. He was a decisive runner and fielded punts cleanly all night long. He looked healthy and has reportedly looked very good returning punts during training camp. He clearly looked like the best option in this game and should see more reps as the preseason progresses.
It’s really hard to get a feel for wide receivers without seeing the all22 film on them and this play above is a perfect example. TJ Jones has some pretty good separation as he catches the ball, but we have no idea if this is from a crisp route or a coverage mistake.
The Lions definitely need to see more from TJ as a pass catching option before they can decide if he’s worth a roster spot. He is an intriguing option as the punter returner and could be an upgrade over Jeremy Ross.
Jermelle Cudjo has been getting talked about a lot as the fifth tackle on the Lions roster after he received a +2.1 PFF grade on 9 total snaps. He made a couple plays in the run game but wasn’t a factor as a pass rusher. Cudjo has a long way to go to make the roster and has only started four games in his four year NFL career but its a good sign to see some run defense in the middle.
This was by far Cudjo’s best play of the night. He tosses the guard aside with ease and bursts into the backfield to tackle the running back for a loss. His hand technique and burst are what make this play, he shoots into the guards shoulder and swats him away with an impressive amount of force.
Cudjo will need to play a lot more than 9 snaps in the next couple of preseason games to make the roster but is an interesting player to watch as the preseason progresses. He could easily make the team with the lack of depth at the position.
Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Quandre Diggs was the talk of OTAs, he made a number of plays and impressed all of the coaches with his instincts. He took some reps as the first team nickel cornerback as Nevin Lawson recovered from his injury. Quandre only played 14 snaps against the Jets but managed to make a couple plays. He was targeted three times and only allowed one reception for 5 yards.
One of the more underrated aspects of Quandre’s game is his ability to blitz. In the play above, Quandre blitzes from the nickel and has a clear path towards the quarterback. This is beautiful play design by Teryl Austin, pre snap the Lions defense looks like they’re going to blitz with six players around the line of scrimmage. After the snap, Larry Webster and the middle linebacker drop back into coverage while Phillip Hunt wraps around on a stunt. The offensive line is very confused, four guys block two Lions defensive lineman and leaving two free rushers. Quandre and Phillip Hunt both drill Bryce Petty and force an incompletion on the play.
Quandre was rather quiet in pass coverage, he wasn’t targeted very much and without all22 film its very hard to see how well he did. The play above shows the pass Quandre defended in the fourth quarter. He recognizes the slant early and explodes on the ball when he sees the Petty stare down his receiver. Quandre has the awareness to try and rip the ball out of the receiver’s hands and knocks the ball loose with some help from Josh Bynes.
Quandre is still behind Nevin Lawson on the depth chart and will need to outperform him to become the starter. Nevin Lawson was given the start with Rashean Mathis sitting out and looks to be penciled in as the teams starting nickel cornerback for the moment.
Gabe Wright had an up and down first preseason game. He played 22 snaps and got some reps with the first team defense. He got blown up a couple of times in the run game and really struggled with double teams. He wasn’t much of a pass rushing threat either and didn’t record a single pressure.
Although Gabe really struggled in his first NFL game he did have one really good play. He feels the center is off balance and uses a dirty spin move to rip off his block right into the hole. He is a very athletic defensive tackle and this play shows some of his potential at the position. He will see some action this year as a reserve defensive tackle so the Lions will need him to improve on his first performance.
How do you think the Lions did against the Jets? What players do you want me to spotlight next week against the Redskins? Check my twitter feed for more vines from the game that I couldn’t include in the article. Stop by next week to check out my review of the Redskins game.
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