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Justin Vanfulpen - LionsFans.com
With half the pre-season over, Lions insider Justin VanFulpen looks at each position on the Detroit Lions:
Charlie Batch has looked very impressive in the pre-season and has a quarterback rating of over 127. Batch will again see an extended amount of time in the third pre-season game against Pittsburgh on Saturday to get the new West Coast offense down. Jim Harbaugh is number two, but rookie Mike McMahon has been more impressive than Harbaugh has in pre-season and training camp.
James Stewart is the starter, and didnt play in the last pre-season game against the Colts because of a hamstring injury and the Lions wont push it this week either. Plus, they want to get a better look at the other four guys trying to make it as his back up. Lamont Warren has emerged from the pack and right now is the leader of the chase to become the back-up running back. He has looked great in both pre-season games but Marty Mornhinweg still want to see him continue to perform well. Sedrick Irvin, prior to the pre-season games, was the leader for the back-up running back spot, but he has not shown much in the pre-season game running the ball. Irvin has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield but he doesnt have great speed and that is his still is his down fall. Reuben Droughns is making a strong push and ran the ball hard against the Colts and he has caught a few coaches eyes and will get a few more chance to see what he can do. He is showing that he has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, and this is only going to help he chances. Amp Lee still has not played a down, but he could get a chance against the Steelers on Saturday but most think that he wont make the team.
Cory Schlesinger is the starter and an excellent lead blocker. Stephen Trejo an undrafted rookie free agent out of Arizona State, and Brock Olivo are in a huge battle for the back-up fullback spot. Seems like every time you talk to the Lions coaching staff it will change on who is in the lead. For a while it was Olivo, then it was is Trejo, know it looks like it is back to Olivo. Something that has helped Olivo is his ability on special teams if Trejo can step it up on special teams he just might make the team
Johnnie Morton is the only one out of the top three receiver that has played this pre-season, but that might change Saturday when there is a chance that Herman Moore might play. Germane Crowell has been out most of training camp with a injured knee, but it is nothing that should keep him from starting the regular season and could play in the Lions finally pre-season game. Larry Foster showed in the first pre-season game that when he gets his hands on the ball he can be a playmaker but didnt play against the Colts because of an Achilles injury, but he should play Saturday. Scotty Anderson has had some up and down moments in training camp and pre-season, but will get more playing time in the finally two pre-season games to see what he can do. Desmond Howard will again be the Lions kick and punt return specialist, and Coach Mornhinweg thinks that Howard has the ability to add something in the passing game and will have a few special play just for him.
David Sloan has not played any in the pre-season because of a broken hand, but could be back this Saturday. Pete Mitchell hasnt shown much in the pre-season so far, but hasnt had that many opportunities. Terrence Dupree is a good blocker but need to be able to catch the ball to stick with the team. Brad Banta is on the roster because he is the longsnapper for both punts and placement kicks, but wont see anytime at the tight end spot.
First round draft pick Jeff Backus has looked as solid as a rookie can in his first two pre-season games. Aaron Gibson has had both shoulder surgically repaired in the last two years and there are still some question marks with his shoulder but he has been able to play in the first two pre-season games and play well. Last years first round pick Stockar McDougle has not played in a pre-season game because of a injury, but will likely see his first action Saturday, and must play well because Tony Semple is pushing hard for his starting guard position. Brenden Stai has been solid in the first two pre-season games. Eric Beverly will be the starting center and held off second round draft choice Dominic Raiola for the job, and he has played fairly well in the pre-season. Ray Roberts looks like he will retire this week sometime. Matt Joyce has not played up to the level of expectations of the coaches. Kerlin Blaise was looking good at both the back-up guard and tackle spot before he went down with a knee injury, but there is a chance that he could play Saturday. Andy Vincent, who last season made the practice squad had a good training camp and has looked well in the pre-season. The Lions just signed Robert Hicks who was cut from the Buffalo Bills and he looks like he will take Ray Roberts roster spot.
James Hall took the pre-season by storm, he had 4 sacks in the first pre-season game has look great all of training camp as well. Alonzo Spellman was signed to add depth to the team, and looked good in his first pre-season game. Well Luther Elliss and Tracy Scroggins but both are expect to be there when the season opens but have not played a down in the pre-season. Scroggins could possible play this Saturday. Robert Porcher had an awesome game against the Colts, with a sack, a forced fumble and an interception, and looks to have a bounce back season for last year. James Jones is a solid player in the middle of Detroit defense line. A player that could have an impact on Detroit defensive line is second round pick Shawn Rogers, who hasn't seen any playing time in the pre-season but could get in some against the Steelers. Kelvin Pritchett has started the past two pre-season games and has looked better then ever, and again will be a valuable back up. Travis Kirschke is now a long shot to make the team but he is a solid inside player. Defensive end Jared DeVries won't be back until the sixth game of the season because of a blood clot that he need surgery to repair.
The starting linebackers have been solid this pre-season so far in Stephen Boyd, Chris Claiborne and Allen Aldridge. Both Aldridge and Claiborne have been used as rush ends in the nickel and dime packages. Last year second round pick Barrett Green had a good first pre-season intercepting a pass, but did play against the Colt but he is expect to be back this Saturday, the coaches like his development so far and want to see more of him. Scott Kowalkowski still shows that he is a valuable back and a very good special teams player as well. There is a battle between rookie Jason Glenn, and Clint Kriewaldt to who the Lions will keep on the roster and they could keep both but the coaching staff doesn't think that is likely. Glenn has shown some ability when he is there on defense but he ends to make more plays on special teams to impress the coaches. Kriewaldt is a good special teams player who also played some in the nickel packages last season, but need to show more then that to make the team.
The Lions can not wait to get Bryant Westbrook back at full strength and he could possibly play in the season opener. Terry Fair is a dependable cornerback and can make plays when he gets his hands on the ball and say he physical feels the best since when he was a rookie. Todd Lyght who was a Pro Bowl player two years ago for the Super Bowl winning St. Louis Rams has done a nice job this pre-season and will be a great nickel cornerback when Westbrook gets fully healed. Robert Bailey has had his moments in the pre-season but will be the Lions fourth cornerback when it is all said and done and he is very good player to be your fourth cornerback. Jimmy Wyrick looks like he will make the team as the Lions fifth cornerback. There are two un-drafted rookie free agent that have look very good in training camp and the pre-season and they both have a shot at making the team. Lagarius Jennings a smaller cornerback from Tennessee State and Chidi Iwuoma from California, both have shown good play on special teams as well as on defense.
The starting safety position are solid if both Kurt Schulz and Ron Rice can stay healthy. The Lions have moved Lamar Campbell to safety and he will be a back up as well as a starting linebacker on nickel package. Kywin Supernaw who worked at both safety positions in the off-season was having a good training camp until he injured his next neck in the first pre-season game. No real word on what the plan is with him. Un-drafted rookie free-agent Eugene Clinton from Mississippi State had a great training camp and so far a decent pre-season.