Detroit Lions Roster: The Particulars on Offense


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For a couple of weeks, I’ve been saying that the Detroit Lions roster isn’t going to look like it has for the past few seasons.  Sure, it didn’t turn out exactly like I predicted, but it still ended up looking quite different than it has under general manager Martin Mayhew.  Now that the roster has (for the most part) been formed, it’s time to look at what the line of reasoning might be for going with the personnel they chose.


Starter:  Matthew Stafford
Backup: Dan Orlovsky

Kellen Moore has moved on to Dallas where he’ll serve on the practice squad, awaiting a call up in the case of injury to starter Tony Romo where Moore would step into that #2 role.  There are no surprises in the #1 or #2 quarterback for the Lions, but what of that third spot?  This is the first season Martin Mayhew has rolled with only 2 QBs, but that doesn’t mean we’ll only have 3 officially. Ideally, the team would have liked to keep Kellen Moore on their own practice squad, but they never had the faith in him that Scot Linehan had.  Now, it’s more likely they’ll find a practice squad candidate.  Who?  Former Nevada QB Cody Fajardo is a possibility, as is former East Carolina and Chicago Bears QB Shane Carden. Most likely to me, they bring back former Duke QB and Laken Tomlinson teammate Anthony Boone.  Of the three, Fajardo has the highest upside while Boone is the most likely to fill the Kellen Moore “Better in the film room” role.

Running Back

Starter:  Ameer Abdullah/Joique Bell, Michael Burton
Backup: Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner
Inactive: Zach Zenner

He did it.  Whether you call him “Doc”, “Doctor Zed”, “ZZ Trucks” or whatever else, fan favorite and preseason superstar Zach Zenner has made the Detroit Lions roster.  Now what?  Joique Bell is the penciled in starter, but I don’t expect that to last.  Assuming he comes in week 1 healthy, Bell is going to be the starter but it’s only a matter of time before he’s overtaken by Abdullah.  Riddick is likely to hold onto his 3rd down and 2 minute drill role regardless of who is starting, but what happens after that?  Depending on the week, at least at first, the Lions are likely to keep Zenner active only when he has more value on the offense.  If the team is playing an opponent susceptible to the run, it makes sense for the Detroit Lions roster to contain more capable runners.  If they need their ST unit to be beefed up (And they will), Zenner may end up inactive to allow someone like Copeland to be activated.

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Tight End

Starter:  Eric Ebron
Backup: Brandon Pettigrew, Tim Wright
Inactive: None

Nothing fancy going on here.  Expect this to be the case every week if they’re all healthy.

Wide Receiver

Starter:  Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate
Backup: Corey Fuller, Lance Moore/TJ Jones
Inactive: Lance Moore/TJ Jones

The third receiver in the Detroit Lions offense doesn’t need a lot of snaps since they won’t be getting a lot of targets.  Last season, even with Calvin Johnson’s injuries and the tight ends struggling, the #3 WR only had about 30 targets, that’s less than 2 per game.  The #4 receiver also received about 30 targets, but I don’t expect that this season.  With Eric Ebron taking up some WR snaps, as well as Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick to the same, I don’t expect more than 10 targets on the season.  As such, without special teams value, I don’t expect to see the 4th receiver much and the 5th receiver at all.  It all boils down to whether Jones can show ST value.  If he becomes the returner, he’ll be active and we’ll likely never see the veteran Lance Moore.  If Jones isn’t up to the task, or if the opponent is more susceptible to those underneath routes and for some reason Golden Tate is hobbled, Lance Moore will be active.  As I’ve mentioned before, the #3 receiver in Detroit’s offense is Corey Fuller less because of ability than because of where he plays.  On 3WR sets, either Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate slides inside to the slot, meaning the 3rd WR must be an outside receiver.

Offensive Tackle

Starter:  Riley Reiff/LaAdrian Waddle
Backup: Corey Robinson
Inactive: Cornelius Lucas

This may surprise some as the Cornelius Lucas was listed as the 3rd OT on the Detroit Lions roster in 2013.  As it is, Lucas still punches with about as much velocity and ferocity as a freshly dried kitten sitting on a pillow in a field of cotton. Robinson has been bad, oh boy has he been bad, but he at least gets after his assignments.  It’s more likely that both of these players are active on game day, especially considering Waddle’s health, but if they carry only one on game day to go heavy elsewhere, I think this is the safest option.  If one of the starters go down, Stafford is in big trouble anyway.

Interior OL

Week One Starter:  Manny Ramirez/Travis Swanson/Larry Warford
Backup: Laken Tomlinson, Taylor Boggs
Inactive: None

Settled Starter:  Laken Tomlinson/Travis Swanson/Larry Warford
Backup: Manny Ramirez
Inactive: Taylor Boggs

I had to list this twice because we ended up with my worst case scenario for OG.  Tomlinson showed enough in the preseason and camp to know that we got a good one, but he clearly wasn’t quite ready and needs a little more time.  Ramirez is likely to get the start with both Tomlinson and Boggs playing game day backups (Possibly even starting if Warford can’t go).  Once Ramirez loses the job, which I believe he will more than Tomlinson will win it back, the starters will be locked in long term and Ramirez will become the only active IOL as a swing player. 

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