Depth Chart flips following win

More importantly than Saturday's win was that several players got their chance to impress the coaching staff, and no one was more impressive than Avon Cobourne. Lions' insider Mike Fowler reviews the position battles as the first wave of cuts will be announced on Tuesday, plus; A trade brewing with Washington? PUP tent, practice squad possibilities, and more

(DETROIT, MI) - It was a great old time in Ford Field Saturday night. Detroit got their offensive in-gear early against a tepid Cleveland defense and the result was a 38-17 pasting of the Browns in the second annual Great Lakes Classic.

More importantly though, several players got their chance to impress the coaching staff and no one was more impressive than Avon Cobourne. Cobourne, 5-8, 205-lbs, an undrafted rookie free agent from West Virginia who is the Mountaineers all-time leading rusher, made the most of his chance as the featured back, rushing seven times for 49 yards, catching two balls for 18 yards and a fifteen yard kickoff return.

The coaching staff was looking for someone who showed speed around the corner and Cobourne gave them what they were looking for. Shawn Bryson, while not very productive (4 carries, 2 yards) running the ball, showed the coaching staff that he was first, healthy and second, still able to make plays catching the football (three catches, 27 yards).

But even if there is anything left to play for, Autry Denson showed that he isn't going to go away. Playing strictly in mop-up duty, Denson rushed eight times for 77 yards, tops on the team, including a fourth quarter breakaway 37-yard touchdown run to finish the scoring for the night. Denson, immediately took the field as a gunner on the kickoff return team. If he doesn't stick with Detroit, then some other team will likely want this productive team player on their squad.

The wide receivers battles continued and if Scotty Anderson isn't on this team, it will be a major surprise. Anderson continued his outstanding play this season making two huge catches, one on a seam route, the other on a skinny post, both for touchdowns. Anderson has also shown a willingness to mix it up blocking on run plays and his three catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns shouldn't be overlooked. Individually, Bill Schroeder was the receiving leader, catching four balls for 74 yards including a 32-yard seam route from Harrington.

With rookie Charles Rogers (four catches for 52 yards) and injured Az-Zahir Hakim at #1 and #2, Schroeder and Anderson appear to be #3 and #4. With return man Eddie Drummond #5, that leaves 10-year veteran Shawn Jefferson (zero catches, 12-yards rushing) and 5th round draft pick David Kircus (no catches) fighting for the last spot on the team. Kircus seems to have plateaued and could find himself outright released or at best, signed to the practice squad.

Rookie Casey Fitzsimmons appeared to have the team made until he fumbled away the football drawing the ire of head coach Steve Mariucci. Fitzsimmons endured a complete dressing down by the coach on the sidelines. Is it "tough love" for a player who figures in Mariucci's plans or is it "good night sweet prince" for Fitzsimmons? It's hard to imagine all the plays Fitzsimmons made being wiped out on one fumble and with two catches for nine yards he was still the most productive tight end offensively on the field.

The injury that will put corner Chris Cash out for the season could keep rookie Danny "Blue" Adams on the roster. Adams has been burned a couple of times but seems to bounce back and showed sprinter speed in chasing down Cleveland rookie returner C.J. Jones, saving a touchdown in the process. Adams (three passes defensed) gets his hands on a lot of balls and isn't afraid to take a chance. With free agent signee Chris Watson out for the foreseeable future and a PUP candidate, Adams could make the final roster.

Give Joey Harrington credit for breaking out of the early funk that had gripped him and stifled the Lions offense. Harrington was sharp, completing 15-of-20 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown while getting 13 points on the board in the first half. Harrington threw just one interception (98.8 rating). Second-teamer Mike McMahon was just as impressive, getting 18 points on the board in the third quarter alone, completing 10-of-17 for 114 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. McMahon also ran for a touchdown.

PAWS FOR THOUGHT: Seattle officials and sources in the Pacific Northwest debunked a rumor that Detroit was attempting to make a deal for former Ohio State star Shawn Springs. Seattle officials believe they need at least three cover corners in the pass happy NFC West.

However, with the injury to second year corner Chris Cash, will Detroit re-heat talks with Washington? The Redskins were said to be offering corner Fred Smoot, a second year corner from Mississippi State (61 tackles and four interceptions) while asking for Detroit's third-year defensive tackle Shawn Rogers. Will Detroit bite or would they perhaps offer Luther Elliss (currently on the NFI list) in exchange for Smoot? The Redskins are as desperate to fill their defensive line needs as Detroit is to grab a solid cover corner. The Lions have Rogers, Elliss, veteran Kelvin Pritchett, newly signed Dan Wilkinson and rookie Cory Redding at the position.

PUP TENT: With lingering injuries, Elliss, Watson, rookie defensive tackle Cory Redding and rookie running back Artose Pinner are all candidates for the PUP list which would keep them out of the first six games of the season. If Elliss is being dangled as trade bait, he would not be assigned to this list as any team dealing for him would want him available on their own timetable.

PRACTICE SQUAD: Mark September 1 on your calendar. That's the day Detroit has to establish their five-man practice squad made up of released players from around the league and their own roster. Early candidates are David Kircus, "Blue" Adams, guard Zach Wilson and defensive back Gerald Dixon. Detroit outstanding pro personnel director Sheldon White is also burning the midnight oil watching tape of rookies around the league that could end up on the waiver wire for talent.

FOOLISH GAMES: What was Jason Hanson thinking? As rookie return man C.J. Jones was rumbling toward a touchdown with a blocker leading the way, Hanson barreled into linebacker Mike Unck, taking him off his feet and cleared the way for corner Blue Adams to make a touchdown saving tackle. In regular season, Hanson would have been in line for a major "attaboy", but in preseason? An injury to Hanson would have been devastating. After the play Hanson got major props from defensive linemen Shawn Rogers and James Hall who loved seeing their kicker take on an opposing backer.

GETTING ZIGGY WITH IT: Detroit must cut their squad to 65 by tomorrow, then after Thursday evening's contest against Buffalo, they must pare the roster to 53 by Sunday.


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