One preseason game is done -- the Detroit Lions beat Indianapolis, 24-10 -- and there’s a lot more information to go on now when it comes to figuring out what the team’s initial 53-man roster will look like. A caveat here is Kerry Hyder’s injury. Coach Jim Caldwell called the Achilles injury Hyder suffered “significant.” Until it’s confirmed, we’ll leave him on the roster, but I’ll address it in the defensive line portion of this.
That said, here’s a revised roster projection (asterisk denotes practice squad).
Cut: Brad Kaaya*
Why: Stafford is in. Rudock has been good in practice and played well Sunday, completing 13 of 21 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Kaaya also looked good, completing 8 of 11 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, but Rudock is still ahead -- possibly by a good amount. There’s a chance the Lions keep three quarterbacks, particularly if Kaaya continues to play well, but for now I’m sticking with two.
Running back (4)
Why: No changes here. The top four seem pretty set and that Asiata mostly got late-game work shows he’s behind Zenner and Washington on the depth chart. Washington also was the first kick returner out there, so that gives him an edge on a roster spot.
Wide receiver (5)
Why: Golladay played exceptionally well in the opener. Jones worked with the first unit and then didn’t play much after that, so his spot seems safe for now -- although Golladay’s continued emergence could make that mildly interesting. In the battle for the potential fifth spot, Abbrederis and Billingsley both had good and bad moments -- so I’m sticking with Abbrederis over Billingsley. But it is close and that could change by next week. Thomas and Ford both had moments that they can build on for a potential practice squad spot.
Tight End (4)
Change: Wright in, Wick out.
Why: That Wright came into practice and started working with the first team on the first day. He looked good there, too. Wick didn’t do much in the first preseason game and if the Lions are looking for a backup to Ebron, Wright might be the best option. He also is more experienced and Wick could be a practice squad candidate.
Offensive tackle (4)
Injured: Taylor Decker (PUP)
Why: No changes here yet, but if Corey Robinson gets back and plays well, the opportunity is there. Same with improvement from Norton. The bigger news is Greg Robinson looking competent at left tackle, possibly alleviating some concerns there.
Interior offensive line (5)
Why: This stays the same -- for now. Tomlinson feels like he could eventually get pushed off the roster bubble, perhaps in favor of Koloamatangi. The other four are pretty set. This could be an area where the Lions might try to bring in another player later in camp if they don’t like what they have as reserves.
Defensive end (5)
Suspended: Armonty Bryant
Why: If you notice, I didn’t put a practice squad designation next to Barrett. If Hyder is done for the season -- and from the way everything sounded Sunday, it’s not looking good for him -- Barrett is the guy I would bump up for now. Valoaga has played well and could also push for a spot. But Barrett has been one of the more impressive guys in camp. This could be a spot that could shift greatly with Hyder’s injury -- it wouldn’t be surprising if Detroit tried to land a free agent here.
Defensive tackle (5)
Suspended: Khyri Thornton
Why: Tough to make many changes here. The top three are set. Hill has been good in practice, but didn’t play Sunday. I’m sticking with him for now because of those practices since Gaston and Ferguson haven’t done enough to overtake him, yet. The last one or two spots here are anything but determined, though.
Change: Bellore off
Why: The group of five feels pretty solid to me at this point. Longa is a good player who seemed to be around the ball a lot on defense and special teams. He’ll be a player to watch the rest of the preseason.
Change: Hayden on.
Why: After a week having him off, Hayden is back on the 53-man projection after a surprise start Sunday. He played pretty well in that appearance, too, and since last week he’s been improving consistently in practice. This group might be the deepest Detroit has.
Why: The first three safeties are locked in. Carey still feels pretty safe, but if Washington continues to play well -- he had a good couple of days in practice last week and had a couple of tackles Sunday -- he could make a push. Special teams and injuries in other places could play a role here for the final one or two (if the Lions keep five) safety spots.
Cut: Kasey Redfern
Why: As long as Martin comes back from the non-football injury list, this is what it’ll be.