Lions vs. Colts: 3 whose future in Detroit hangs in the balance

Detroit Lions wide receiver Tom Kennedy (85) (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Detroit Lions wide receiver Tom Kennedy (85) (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Detroit Lions will play their final game of the preseason this Friday night, August 27, at Ford Field with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m. EDT. Traditionally, the final exhibition of the preseason is reserved for fringe players as the last opportunity to prove they are worthy of a spot on the final 53-man roster.

With final cuts looming at the end of this month, the Lions will have to make some tough decisions about the fate of many of their current players. Here are three higher-profile Lions whose future in Detroit could be hanging on their performance against the Colts this Friday night.

Tom Kennedy, WR

Once again, wide receiver Tom Kennedy has posted a stellar preseason performance. The former lacrosse pro racked up a game-leading four catches on six targets for 46 yards in the preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills. Over the weekend, Kennedy again led the Lions in receptions with four catches off four targets for 61 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While it appears Tyrell Williams, rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond, and Quintez Cephus have done enough to make the cut in Detroit, there’s seems to be some question on whether Breshad Perriman is on that same list or not.

And Perriman’s status in Detroit combined with another strong performance by Kennedy or others like Geronimo Allison, Victor Bolden, Javon McKinley, and Damion Ratley this Friday might help make that decision easier.

Craig Reynolds, RB

The feel-good story of running back Craig Reynolds has been one of the biggest storylines of the preseason in Detroit. From joining the Lions one day to playing in the team’s first preseason game the next, Reynolds has made the most of his limited opportunities. But was it enough to crack the final 53?

Reynolds posted an 8.2 yards per carry average in his Lions’ preseason debut against the Bills. He recorded 49 yards and a touchdown on six carries. On Saturday night against the Steelers, Reynolds shined again posting 29 yards and a score on five carries averaging 5.8 yards per attempt.

While Reynolds’ time in Detroit has been special, it may take one last stellar performance to force Detroit to make room on the 53-man roster for someone like him. D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, and Jermar Jefferson seemed to be locked in place on the running back depth chart.

If Reynolds, Dedrick Mills, and Godwin Igwebuike aren’t competing for a spot on the final roster against the Colts, perhaps they are doing so for a role on the practice squad.

Jahlani Tavai, LB

It appears the career of linebacker Jahlani Tavai might be coming to an end in Detroit. The 2019 second-rounder was always going to have a difficult time transitioning from Matt Patricia’s defense as a hulking, big-bodied linebacker to the much quicker defender the new regime in Detroit wants.

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Cutting weight this offseason in an attempt to better fit the defensive scheme under new coordinator Aaron Glenn in Detroit, Tavai was able to record a combined five tackles against the Steelers Saturday. But he’s still a liability in coverage and is playing under his third defensive coordinator in as many years. Perhaps a stellar performance against the Colts this week could be the glimmer of hope coaches have been waiting to see from the recent high-draft pick.