After another week of joint practices, the Detroit Lions took the field in the second week of preseason action against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Suffice it to say this week’s game did not go as rhe preseason opener.
Jacksonville outplayed Detroit in every facet. The Jaguars controlled the tempo offensively, running the ball particularly effectively in the first half. The Jacksonville passing game also met little resistance at times, as open receivers were easy to find against the Lions' secondary.
On the other side of the ball, the Lions' offensive line could not hold up in pass protection or create running lanes. But that's part of life when backups are playing all game.
There weren’t many positive developments to come out of this ugly affair for the Lions. And there were some lingering concerns that continued to show. Here are a few observations from Saturday’s snooze fest.
4 observations from Detroit Lions' preseason loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars
Steven Gilmore and Starling Thomas can play
Gilmore and Thomas both have been climbing the depth chart since minicamps. It is becoming increasingly likely that at least one makes the 53-man roster. Both continued their ascent on Saturday.
Thomas got some run as a kick returner in this game, and he looked quite good. He also flashed as a gunner, winning multiple reps cleanly, which no doubt will get Dan Campbell’s attention.
As for Gilmore, he flashed in coverage. He did give up a 48-yard play, but he was in near-perfect position and just didn't quite finish. It was just a perfect throw and catch. A few plays later Gilmore broke up a pass in the end zone to force a field goal attempt. A bit later he picked up an interception after Tracy Walker deflected the ball right into his hands. It was a very impressive game for Gilmore.
Wide receiver battle is heating up
The top four receivers on the Lions' 53-man roster are set--Amon-Ra St. Brown, Marvin Jones, Josh Reynold and Kalif Raymond. The question is how many more make it, one or two, and who they will There are three prominent candidates right now, and all of them saw significant playing time on Saturday.
Chase Cota saw early work as the punt returner and did well. He also nearly made an incredible catch along the sidelines, but couldn’t quite bring it in. But he did score the Lions' only touchdown on the day with a short out route in the end zone.
Dylan Drummond saw five targets come his way, bringing in two receptions for 29 yards. He had one notable drop, on a fade down the right sideline. The coverage on him was tight, but the ball hit Drummond in the hands and you would like to see him come down with it.
Lastly, Antoine Green saw the least amount of action but he caught his lone target. It was a short completion, but Green was able to get up and run for additional yardage because neither Jaguars’ defender touched him down. The 7th-round pick seemed to be on the inside track for a roster spot early on, but Cota and Drummond have usurped him.
Offensive line depth is a major issue
Last week the shortcomings of the Lions reserve offensive linemen made it difficult for the offense to generate much of anything. The issue remained this week, and got worse against the Jaguars. The interior linemen especially struggled--any run play up the middle got blown up immediately.
Many teams have aggressively discovered how offensive line depth is a luxury they can’t afford. That being said, the Lions reserves seem to be a step behind. The second and third-team offenses can hardly function with the backups in the game.
The race for RB3
Because of the line issues, evaluating the running backs is, at best, difficult.
But Craig Reynolds seemed to take hold of the No. 3 running back spot on Saturday. He played the entire first half, with a total of 12 touches.
Benny Snell and Jermar Jefferson both performed adequately as runners. Jefferson was more impressive, showing some elusiveness to avoid being tackled for a loss on multiple occasions. He also got some run returning kickoffs in the second half.