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Summary from the Final Week of Camp
Jared Goff is locked in as the starter. He may struggle in an offense that, after T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift, has one of the worst supporting casts in the league. Tim Boyle and David Blough have gone back and forth in their quest for the backup job. Blough was better in the second preseason game but struggled in the final game. Boyle wasn’t any better than Blough in the last tilt, losing a strip-sack fumble before throwing a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Blough replaced Boyle and had extended playing time with an interception but showed the ability to create on the ground and keep plays alive. Head coach Dan Campbell noted that the team could keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.
D'Andre Swift returned to full-team drills last week and had multiple touchdown receptions during 11-on-11s. Running back coach Duce Staley said of Swift, “I’m concerned. You want to get him out there to get used to the speed of the game, to get on the same page with your quarterback.” Campbell echoed Staley, “Swift concerns me a little bit, just with getting his wind back before being able to take a [full workload].” Jamaal Williams slots behind Swift, but will play a significant role. The third running back spot is unsettled. Chris Burke of The Athletic notes the coaches like Jermar Jefferson, even though he’s struggled in pass protection. Burke added Craig Reynolds, Godwin Igwebuike, and Derick Mills “are taking the RB3 race to the wire.” Reynolds is probably destined for the practice squad. Igwebuike, the converted defensive back, has grown during camp, with Burke projecting him to make the 53 man roster behind Swift, Williams, and Jefferson.
Tyrell Williams missed multiple days of practice during the week with a minor groin injury. With Breshad Perriman also a limited participant, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond, and Quintez Cephus were the three leading receivers. Speaking of Perriman, he was released on Monday after an injury-riddled, disappointing summer. Burke opines on Victor Bolden Jr, “Victor Bolden Jr’s regression after an electric spring has been rough. For a moment there, he looked like a sleeper to crack the depth chart as a slot-receiving weapon.” Campbell also said, “We trust Tom Kennedy right now.” Kennedy has been a riser in camp and has shown well in preseason games. In the final preseason game, he was quiet as the Lions may try to waive Kennedy before stashing him on the practice squad.
Behind T.J. Hockenson and Darren Fells, Alize Mack and Brock Wright are in a battle for the No. 3 spot. Burke noted, “Mack and Wright are in a battle for the third tight end job, a battle that no one seems to want to win. Mack’s struggles as a blocker during camp could’ve been the deciding factor as he was released as the team made the cuts to their 53-man roster.
Zane Gonzalez made both extra-point attempts and a 28-yard field goal in the loss to the Colts, while Randy Bullock was perfect in the preseason but he hadn’t made a field goal longer than 28 yards. The team opted to release both kickers and find their starter after final cutdowns.
Veteran defensive lineman Michael Brockers slowly returned to team drills, intending to be ready for Week 1. Coach Campbell was complimentary of Austin Bryant, saying, “He’s been pretty impressive. This guy’s really got a high ceiling and can continue to grow. He’s even twitchier than I thought he was.” Kyle Meinke of Mlive.com noted second-year cornerback “Jeff Okudah might be the most improved player on this roster.”
This offseason, the Lions signed veteran returner Kalif Raymond to address their special teams after long-time return specialist Jamal Agnew left in free agency.
Summary from Week 3 of Camp
Jared Goff continues to struggle with the vertical passing game. The struggles are a combination of Goff not being naturally inclined to throw deep and a lack of reliable vertical threats on the roster. Goff didn’t play against the Steelers, with Tim Boyle drawing the start. Boyle struggled and was outplayed by David Blough. One strong performance isn’t enough to vault Blough over Boyle, but the competition for the backup job isn’t over. Head coach Dan Campbell said of Boyle and Blough, “I would say just because we’ve been with these guys so long in camp, I really do trust both of them. They’re both very different in the way they go about how they do things and the way they play.”
D'Andre Swift participated in some team drills early in the week as he recovers from a groin injury but did not play against the Steelers. According to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com, Swift “took a heavy load of reps Thursday and said afterward he felt good to be back.” Jamaal Williams was also a healthy scratch against Pittsburgh, indicating plans to incorporate him with the first-team offense in the regular season. Rookie Jermar Jefferson started against the Steelers and split time with Dedrick Mills while the first team was on the field. Craig Reynolds led the team in rushing, but his work came late in the second half, a sign he may not make the roster.