Several Player On Bubble As Camp Winds Down

As camp winds down here in Allen Park - just one more day to go before the team breaks camp - the Detroit Lions have some difficult personnel decisions to make. There have been several pleasant surprises making for some tough calls on who sticks and who doesn't. Lions' insider Mike Fowler breaks down the competitive positions, including running back and tight end!

(ALLEN PARK) -- As camp winds down here in Allen Park - just one more day to go before the team breaks camp - the Detroit Lions have some difficult personnel decisions to make.

There have been several pleasant surprises making for some tough calls on who sticks and who doesn't.

At the tight end position, Casey Fitzsimmons, an undrafted free agent from Carroll College is making a strong bid not only to make the team, but to leap ahead of a couple of players on the depth chart. Fitzsimmons has been a revelation with his blocking, pass catching and ability to read defenses. It appears he is battling with Matt Murphy for the spot behind Mikhael Ricks and John Owens. Brad Banta is a lock for one tight end position as the long snapper and Tywan Mitchell, after looking impressive early, appears to be the odd man out.

At running back, Luke Staley was not expected to have such a strong camp after being out all of last season with a knee injury. But Staley put in a strong performance in Saturday's win against Pittsburgh and although none of the backs stood out in Coach Mariucci's mind after the contest, Staley was still the leading rusher.

“[Staley's performance] wasn’t bad – he got a lot of snaps and got some good playing time after James (Stewart) came out," said coach Steve Mariucci. He took it over for a bit and he’s trying to earn himself a spot on this team. He has other competition but he seems to be giving it his best shot and he seems to be relatively healthy.”

His performance makes it imperative that Shawn Bryson, signed as a free agent from Buffalo step up into the competition soon. Detroit will likely keep on three from a group including Staley, Bryson, undrafted free agent Avon Cobourne, second-year back Rafael Cooper from Louisville and NFL Europe star Autry Denson who has been impressive.

"We know who our starters are," said Mariucci. "After that we need to decide the backup fullback. Is he a capable backup fullback and can he contribute in the kicking game? The same goes with the backup tailbacks. Can he be a spot player, a third down player, a role player? Can he contribute in the return game or the cover game some? We need that. We’ve been a little banged up with Cobourne, Bryson, and Pinner. We have Denson, Cooper, and Staley showing some things and they are all fighting for a spot. I’m hoping they all get healthy because we really need that to determine whose best.”

One of the above players could be an undersized fullback if Detroit determines that neither Stephen Trejo, rookie 7th round pick Brandon Drumm from Anchorage, AK. or undrafted free agent Reggie Holts are good enough to stay on the roster.

At cornerback, the performance of rookie Daniel Adams in Saturday's game muddied the waters. Adams had a team high three passes defensed. Second year players Chris Cash and Andre Goodman are expected to make the team along with star free agent signee Dre' Bly. That leaves a group including Jimmy Wyrick, undrafted rookie free agent Jameel Powell, who has been impressive since joining camp, rookie Gerald Dixon who made two great special teams plays and free agent acquisition Chris Watson from Buffalo, who started eight games and played in six others last year before being released in the offseason.

At safety, can rookie fifth round pick Terrence Holt of NC State play well enough that he can unseat veteran Bracy Walker? The Lions will likely only keep four safeties. Walker, going into his 10th NFL season at 32 still has something left in the tank, but at some point, Detroit needs to add some younger players into the mix. Lamar Campbell appears to be back healthy and making plays in special teams, his specialty. Brian Walker is a lock at free safety and Corey Harris, the former Baltimore Raven is penciled in as the starting strong safety.

In the interior offensive line, it will get down to who is versatile enough to keep a spot on the roster. Ray Brown, Eric Beverly, Kerlin Blaise and Tony Semple are locks at the guards. That leaves David Miller, a rookie from Ball State, second year man Josh Lovelady, undrafted rookie Frank Romero and undrafted rookie Zach Wilson fighting for a possible fifth guard position. Lovelady would be the odds-on choice. That is unless Detroit only keeps four guards and Victor Rogers and 7th round draft pick Ben Johnson sneak onto the roster.


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