Detroit Lions Roster: The Particulars on Defense


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We’ve already taken a look at some of the particulars of how the Detroit Lions roster is likely to operate on offense.  Now it’s time to give the defense equal treatment.  The 53 man roster is set, mostly, so there is little risk to this prediction for the next few days. In a twist I actually hit on in my own prediction, the Detroit Lions roster went heavier on defense than offense, keeping an extra DE, DT, and LB.

Defensive End

Starter:  Ziggy Ansah/Jason Jones
Backup: Devin Taylor/Daryl Tapp/Philip Hunt
Inactive: Devin Taylor/Daryl Tapp/Philip Hunt

The only real unknown to this defensive group is who is going to be active on gameday.  Philip Hunt played his way onto the final roster by bringing something none of the other defensive ends could bring to the field.  Is that enough to make him a game day active every week?  More likely it comes down to the opponent.  Between Taylor, Tapp, and Hunt, two will likely be active and the third will sit on the bench.  This group could be the most interesting one to watch each week since each player brings something different and who is active could be telling for how the Detroit Lions view their opponents OL.

Defensive Tackle

Starter:  Haloti Ngata, Tyrunn Walker
Backup: Caraun Reid/Gabe Wright/Jermelle Cudjo
Inactive: Caraun Reid/Gabe Wright/Jermelle Cudjo

This is another group that will have some uncertainty for who is going to be inactive.  It isn’t as unsettled as DE, though, as Caruan Reid’s inclusion with the inactive group is entirely based on health.  His play has been good enough to put him in that third DT spot pretty firmly if he can remain healthy, it’s just a matter of getting to that point.  Gabe Wright has flashed at times, but maybe not enough to keep him active every game.  More likely the team keeps him inactive most days and puts Cudjo in the lineup, using Wright when there is a more favorable match up that week.

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Starter:  DeAndre Levy/Stephen Tulloch/Tahir Whitehead
Backup: Josh Bynes, Kyle Van Noy, Travis Lewis/Brandon Copeland
Inactive: Kyle Van Noy, Travis Lewis/Brandon Copeland

Kyle Van Noy looked like a completely different player against the Buffalo Bills than he’d looked in previous weeks.  That bodes well for the long-term outlook of the Detroit Lions roster, but it isn’t enough to give me confidence he’ll be active every week.  His counterparts in the LB depth; Bynes, Lewis, and Copeland; all hold more special teams value than Van Noy.  The inactive for the week will likely come down to Van Noy and one of either Lewis or Copeland, depending on the ST needs.  One note, with DeAndre Levy battling some injury right now, it’s possible we actually see him on the bench a week or two to start the season.  In that case, it’s more likely we see Josh Bynes than Kyle Van Noy starting, so no real changes here.


Starter:  Rashean Mathis, Darius Slay
Backup: Josh Wilson, Nevin Lawson
Inactive: Quandre Diggs

I don’t expect to see much of Diggs this year.  After a hot start in OTAs, he fizzled almost completely when training camp and the preseason started.  Josh Wilson has been a pleasant surprise at nickel, while Lawson has been around the ball nearly every play (Sometimes leading to PI calls, but he’s right there).  If Lawson continues to struggle with penalties, I could see Diggs and him switching spots.  Other than that, nothing fancy here.


Starter:  Glover Quin, James Ihedigbo
Backup: Isa Abdul-Quddus, Don Carey
Inactive: None

No surprises here.  I’m going to use this moment to vent that Don Carey somehow still made the active roster.  Carey received the lowest Special Teams score on the team from PFF, while receiving the lowest defensive grade of all Lions safeties as well.  Those grades pass the eye test as well and I still can’t get why he made the team.  Still, they will keep him active on game day to play special teams and act as injury insurance at multiple positions.  Other than that note, there aren’t any surprises here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Isa Abdul-Quddus starting some games this year, as Ihedigbo wore down swiftly at the end of last season resulting in multiple benchings.  This is a position group I’m hoping the Lions address in the coming weeks, either way.

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