Analyzing the Detroit Lions' 53-man roster
The Detroit Lions cut 21 players today and placed tight end Andrew Quarless on the reserve suspended list to get their roster to the 53-man limit.
Here are some thoughts on the most intriguing moves of the day:
■The Lions kept just one backup quarterback as veteran Dan Orlovsky beat out rookie Jake Rudock for the No. 2 job. It's no surprise that Jim Caldwell chose Orlovsky to backup Matthew Stafford, but I thought Rudock had done enough as a Bob Quinn draft pick to make the team. The New England Patriots, where Quinn cut his teeth for 16 seasons, historically keep one quarterback (a young understudy), but it's always been clear that Caldwell likes Orlovsky and trusts him on the field more than Rudock. Rudock likely is bound for practice squad.
■The biggest surprise to make the 53-man roster is undrafted free agent cornerback Adairius Barnes. Barnes took some No. 1 reps on special teams earlier this preseason and he played well in coverage in the Lions' preseason finale against the Buffalo Bills. He had 10 interceptions in his last three seasons at Louisiana Tech, so he can be a playmaker. But for him to make the team over veteran Darrin Walls was a bit of a stunner.
■If Barnes was the biggest surprise to make the team, than wide receiver TJ Jones was the biggest surprise to get cut. Jones had been running as the Lions' No. 4 receiver and was held out of Thursday's game against the Bills with most of the rest of the starters. The Lions kept just four receivers on their 53-man roster, and picked veteran Andre Roberts for the No. 4 job ahead of Jones and undrafted free agents Jace Billingsley and Jay Lee.
■With Eric Ebron still making his way back from an ankle injury, it's no huge surprise that the Lions kept two backup tight ends. Cole Wick was a lock as he ran with the first-team offense most of the summer. Orson Charles proved he can play on special teams, too, and given the Lions' injuries at linebacker, it made sense to keep Charles on the 53-man roster
■We're only one year removed from the 2015 draft, but already Martin Mayhew's last class isn't looking like it'll be much help to the Lions. Top two picks Laken Tomlinson and Ameer Abdullah should start this year, but third-rounder Alex Carter was cut today and fourth-rounder Gabe Wright, who the Lions traded a 2016 pick to go up and get, also was waived. Sixth-rounder Quandre Diggs played well as a rookie and is a promising nickel defender, and the Lions did keep seventh-round tackle Corey Robinson over Michael Ola.
■Congratulations are in order to Kerry Hyder, who slimmed down and changed positions this year and played his way onto the roster as the Lions' sixth defensive end. Few people gave Hyder a chance to make the team heading into camp, but his hustle was evident from the get-go and he had a dominant performance against the Bills with three sacks and a fourth that was called back by penalty. If you're into numbers, Hyder makes 11 defensive linemen on the initial 53-man roster. That's a huge number, and it's a good bet at least three are inactive Week 1.
■The Lions used a trick out of the Patriots playbook to expand their 53-man roster by a few spots. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew and wide receiver Corey Fuller will start the season on PUP, though both players likely would be ready early in the season if need be. Rookie Jimmy Landes is on injured reserve and will compete for the long-snapper job again next year. And tight end Andrew Quarless comes off the suspended list after Week 2, when the Lions can re-evaluate the tight end position.
■Finally, the Lions aren't done making moves yet. Jon Bostic is expected to go on injured reserve Sunday, the first day that players placed on the list are eligible to return this season. So one player who lost a job Saturday could be back on the field this week.
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