Last chanceThursday's preseason game will be the last chance for some players on the roster to convince the coaching staff that they deserve a spot on the 53-man roster. Nowhere has the competition to stand out been more intense than at wide receiver. Walt Powell is part of the group that's fighting for a spot in the receiver contingent.
"At the end of the day we all know it's a business so there are no hard feelings," said Powell. "We're all out there trying to compete, trying to earn a spot, earn a job. We all are good friends and stuff, but at the same time we're all trying to get a job. So I mean whether it happens and works out for the best or the worst, it's a business."
Head coach Rex Ryan is still waiting for someone to grab hold of a role at receiver beyond the perceived top four, which at this point appears to be Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Greg Salas.
"We're still waiting for somebody to pop out," he said. "Right now it looks like Walt Powell is doing a nice job, but then there are times where you see Boykin doing a good job, Lewis doing a good job. They've all had their moments, but we'll see. If someone can distance themselves then that should bode well for them."
Lawson up, Watkins downAlthough there aren't many starters on either side of the ball who are expected to suit up Thursday night, Ryan said it would be his preference to have Manny Lawson get some playing time. The veteran linebacker got 41 snaps at Washington last Friday in his first preseason action good for 56 percent of the playing time on that side of the ball.
Meanwhile Sammy Watkins saw just two series worth of work last Friday logging just 10 snaps, and he's not going to play Thursday. Ryan explained why.
"I think he's been practicing more," said Ryan of Watkins. "Remember with Manny he had missed all that time in practice leading up (to the game last week), while Sammy was practicing on a limited basis, but he was practicing. I feel pretty good about Sammy. I feel good about Manny. I just think that he could use a few more reps."
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Jones expected to play Thursday nightIt was unknown early in the week whether Cardale Jones would be available for what many believe will be his most extensive game action all season. After suffering a shoulder injury in the preseason game against the Giants two weeks ago, Jones missed last week's preseason game at Washington.
However, he practiced on Monday and got the kinks out and looked even better on Tuesday. So much so that the free agent quarterback they signed as insurance in case Jones couldn't play Thursday at Detroit, Austin Trainor, was released in the cut down to 75 Tuesday.
Jones if fully aware of the level of importance this game holds for his development.
"Very (important)," Jones said. "Just to gain experience and being out there just competing. So to have the experience under my belt, hopefully prepare me for the season whenever you know, my number is called."
Jones said the plan all along was for him to heal up and recover last week so he'd be ready to play at Detroit Thursday night.
The opponentThe Lions come into the preseason finale against the Bills with a 1-2 mark in the preseason. Detroit is coming off a 30-9 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. The Lions first team offense failed to reach the end zone as penalties marred the game for Detroit. They committed nine penalties for 95 yards in the game including three unnecessary roughness penalties when their starters were still in the game.
"Well I think there were different types of penalties from different guys across the board," said a perturbed Lions head coach Jim Caldwell. "Not everybody when they go to church gets saved. We have a few guys that need a revival because some of those penalties are done by guys that don't have penalties in ball games. Nevertheless, (Baltimore) played well."
A holding penalty also negated a Lions touchdown in the first half of the loss to the Ravens.
As for whether Matthew Stafford or any of the other starters on offense will see any action Thursday in light of the offensive struggles in the preseason, Caldwell didn't rule it out.
"We'll wait and see, we'll see," Caldwell said. "We'll look at the film and see if we need to adjust something and we'll consider it."
Detroit also swung a trade this week acquiring offensive line help in the form of G Brandon Thomas, whom they acquired from San Francisco in exchange for WR Jeremy Kerley. Kerley had made a free agent visit to Buffalo this past spring.
The Lions major free agent acquisitions for a second straight offseason came at the wideout position. Last year they signed Golden Tate. This offseason they added Marvin Jones from Cincinnati and signed veteran free agent Anquan Boldin.
Their top draft choice OT Taylor Decker currently starts at left tackle and is a former college teammate of Buffalo's Adolphus Washington and Cardale Jones.