Lions Make More Roster Moves

Analysis of Detroit's moves on Sunday: One surprised us, the other did not. Read more inside.

The Detroit Lions inked linebacker Ryan Nece on Sunday, one day after the seven-year player was dumped in a roster cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The move to collect yet another former Buccaneer -- and a player who spent the bulk of his career working with head coach Rod Marinelli and defensive coordinator Joe Barry -- should surprise no one.

Except, of course, Anthony Cannon.

In three years, Cannon -- a seventh-round choice in 2006 -- had established himself as an All World special teams player in Detroit. And while Nece certainly has more experience in the team's Tampa 2 system (he will back-up Alex Lewis), the release of Cannon could be felt on team's special teams unit.

Detroit had the option to either release Cannon or Gilber Gardner. Gardner, however, also has experience in the Tampa 2 (he spent three years in Indianapolis under Tony Dungy, the architect of said defense).

Nece started 35 of 85 games for Tampa Bay in the past six seasons, and is also a capable special teams player. It's likely that Detroit hopes Nece can fill Cannon's role on the unit, meanwhile providing more experienced depth to the linebacking core.

The big surprise was that the team claimed running back Marcus Thomas. Thomas, a standout at Texas-El Paso, was a fifth-round pick of San Diego's in April. He was ranked considerably higher on Detroit's draft board (the team pegged him as fourth-round material), hence why the Lions jumped on him the moment he became available.

Thomas became the victim of a numbers game in San Diego. The North-to-South running back is still unpolished (according to our Chargers' expert Mike Lombardo, Thomas runs upright and lacks breakaway speed), but the Lions feel he is capable of completing the team's backfield which consists of another rookie, Kevin Smith, and veteran Tatum Bell.

Sean McHugh, one of five tight ends listed on the team's final roster, was released to make room. This is not surprising.

What makes this move questionable was the preference of a relative unknown (Thomas) over a solid veteran such as Artose Pinner. Pinner, among Saturday's roster trimming, has the same size, speed and running style as Thomas, yet is a seasoned vet capable of filling in at any capacity.

He also knows the offense.

While time may certainly qualify the team's move at the running back position, it simply doesn't make sense.

More Notes: The Lions also formed the practice squad, which is headed by quarterback Drew Henson. Signed as a temporary patch while Drew Stanton recovers from injury, the Lions wanted a quarterback for the practice squad, and Henson's availability guaranteed just that. The team also added: LB Darnell Bing, G Matt Butler, RB Allen Ervin, WR Eric Fowler, S LaMarcus Hicks, fifth-round draft choice WR Kenneth Moore and TE Jake Nordin.


Lions Report Top Stories