Detroit Lions vs Jacksonville Jaguars: What to watch for
By Mike Payton
The time is here Detroit Lions fans. Week three of the NFL preseason brings the most excitement for football fans as this week has been dubbed the “dress rehearsal week.” The idea here is that teams shed the vanilla game plan just enough to show the world what to expect of them during the regular season. This of course also brings more time for the first teams to play together as most teams leave a majority of their starters out for the first two quarters and at times part of the third.
I can’t argue that this is the most exciting preseason game on the docket, but I will tell fans to temper their expectations a bit. The Lions and other NFL teams are unlikely to show what they can do to full capacity in the preseason. At this point, everyone is scouting everyone and it would be foolish to show your hand two weeks before real football starts.
As far as starters, the same preseason rules apply. Making sure you can keep your most important players healthy is the number one objective. Which brings me to my first thing to watch for.
Aug 13, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) warms up before the preseason NFL football game against the New York Jets at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t expect to see Calvin Johnson till week one
The last two what to look for articles asked whether or not Lions fans will see Calvin Johnson step foot on the field during preseason. Last week I questioned whether or not he needed to in the first place. Jim Caldwell all but confirmed my suspicions about the man they call Megatron earlier this week.
There’s no reason for the Detroit Lions to risk Calvin Johnson in meaningless games. While injuries are not concern for Johnson at the moment, it would be irresponsible to test that health now. But as this is not confirmed yet, there is a small chance that Calvin could wind up playing a few snaps on Friday night. But I wouldn’t bet money on it.
What will the Lions do with the running game?
With Joique Bells health still uncertain, Lions fans can expect to see a healthy dose of the Lions running back depth on Friday night. Rookie running back Ameer Abdullah has looked great in the preseason thus far. After a big game against the Jets in week one, Abdullah was cooled down a bit in week two but still showed what he could do in short situations. Expect the Lions to keep giving Theo Riddick carries on the ground in hopes that he can improve his through the tacklers running. If the Lions are planning on slightly showing their hands Friday night, Look for Riddick to be used as a receiver more often.
Then America’s new sweetheart will get another chance to make more fans love him as Zach Zenner will likely see some time on the field against Jacksonville. The Lions are obviously smitten with him too. It’s likely he will make the 53 man roster which means George Winn will have to knock it out of the park if he see’s any touches tomorrow night.
How will the defensive line look with another missing piece?
After Caraun Reid limped out of last weeks game against the Washington Redskins, fans had to be concerned about their Lions defensive line that has been the talk of the town all summer long after the loss of Ndamukong Suh. Nevertheless the Lions defense did not skip a beat as they continued to beat Robert Griffin III into the ground.
Now coming into the dress rehearsal against the Jacksonville Jaguars missing Haloti Ngata, Jason Jones, and Caraun Reid, Lions fans will get to see the bare bones of this defense. If the Lions can continue to play the dominant style of defense they’ve played in the preseason thus far, then you have to wonder what the line will look like once they get three starters back. But keep in mind this is preseason football and the defense has merely passed the eye tet at this point.
The good news is Haloti Ngata has been getting to work off to the side in recent practices. MLive’s Kyle Meinke mae note that the five time Pro Bowler “probably won’t have issue being ready for opener.” In other good news, Jason Jones has been activated off the PUP list and is also expected to be ready by week one. Caraun Reid’s timetable is unknown at this point as a high ankle sprain is a tricky injury.
Reserves most look better
Nov 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy (95) against the Miami Dolphins at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The Lions reserves on defense had a poor showing against in Washington last Thursday, allowing the Redskins reserve offense to run all over them. Kyle Van Noy in particular looked lost and blew many assignments. We learned earlier this week that an injury could be partially to blame in this situation. Kyle Van is expected to miss some serious time in 2015. This could open up a roster spot as Van Noy will likely head to the IR.
With the first wave of cuts looming next Tuesday, this is the final chance for some to show what they can do in hopes to make the team or at least get one more shot in the reserves game against Buffalo next Thursday. Look for guys to utilize this last chance on Friday night.
Mike Payton is an Editor at SideLion Report. He is from Holland, Michigan by way of Warren, Michigan. He considers himself to be obsessed with the Detroit Lions. Mike’s work has been featured on ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio and si.com. Mike is also a recurring guest on It is what is with Sean Baligian on ESPN 96.1. Follow Mike Payton on Twitter @SLR_Mike
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