5 observations from Detroit Lions' win in preseason finale over the Panthers

The Detroit Lions closed the preseason with a win over the Carolina Panthers Friday night, and here are some takeaways from the game.
Detroit Lions v Carolina Panthers
Detroit Lions v Carolina Panthers / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

After an eventful three weeks, the Detroit Lions have concluded their preseason journey, inching closer to finalizing their 53-man roster ahead of the regular season.

Usually, the preseason finale tends to offer the least polished on-field performance. But the Lions and the Panthers managed to provide a half of engaging football, with sparks of excitement in the latter portion of the game.

In a game that held significance for players on the roster bubble, several Lions stepped up to the challenge. Others, however, missed opportunities that could cost them a spot on the final roster.

Let's dive into the key observations from this preseason finale:

Teddy Bridgewater shows why Lions invested in him

Bridgewater, donning the legendary number 50, showed some rust in his preseason debut last week. With more time in the offense, he looked much better on Friday night.

His accuracy and composure against the Panthers highlighted precisely why the Lions wanted him as their backup quarterback. He made a variety of throws with proficiciency, which was perhaps best epitomized on a 70-yard touchdown pass to Antoine Green.

Any doubts regarding the Lions' backup quarterback position have been put to rest.

Craig Reynolds put a stranglehold on the RB3 job

Throughout his Lions tenure, Reynolds has never been a particularly flashy player. He is everything this coaching staff wants in terms of personality though, on and off the field. A relentlessly hard worker who refuses to quit or lose faith in himself. 

That hard work has led him to the position he’s in now. Reynolds is pretty firmly entrenched as the third running back on the roster after a good showing (which he may have needed) against Carolina. In this game, he displayed his tenacity between the tackles, along with some shiftiness when bouncing runs to the outside. 

No matter how much the coaching staff may like some of the other backs on the roster, they keep coming back to Reynolds because they always know what they will get from him.

WR5 is still up in the air

With Denzel Mims now out of the picture, the race for WR5 is nearing its climax. There are three leading contenders still, Dylan Drummond, Antoine Green, and Chase Cota. 

Green had the aformentiioned 70-yard touchdown, where he showed off his speed in the open field. He had to other catches in what was easily his best performance of the preseason.

Dylan Drummond was the most consistent target. Showing some impressive hands, and an ability to work the intermediate parts of the field. He ended his day with five receptions for 46 yards. 

Cota had a disappointing day despite a somewhat impressive stat line. He caught three passes for 42 yards, bit he had a couple notable drops too. The obvious instance was a pass that hit him in the hands for what would have been a touchdown. He also failed to haul in a couple of lightly contested catches throughout the game. All in all, not the best final impression.

Mobile quarterbacks could still be an issue for the Lions’ defense

An issue that persisted most of last season was the Lions’ inability to contain mobile quarterbacks. Against the Panthers passers on Friday night, the issue came up once again.

Now it is not fair to judge if it will be an issue before the regular season. But with Aaron Glenn’s tendency to call a lot of man coverage, Detroit will be susceptible to rushing quarterbacks. Rushers will have be disclipined in their pursuit, or things could go awry.

Steven Gilmore makes a statement

Saving the best for last, Gilmore was the standout player in this game. Throughout the game, he displayed nice coverage skills with numerous passes defended. He also showed some impressive physicality with a big hit after Andy Dalton threw a pass he probably shouldn't have.

He put the cherry on top with a one-handed interception in the fourth quarter to put the game away. 

Gilmore already looked like a strong contender for the 53-man roster before this game. With this performance, he may have forced the Lions’ hand.

Now it's on to the Sept. 7 season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.


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