Detroit Lions Preseason Week 1 Stock Report

In a typical NFL season, the preseason is met with the same enthusiasm as commercials with most fans.  It’s necessary to sit through until the good stuff comes back on.  However, to the more observant and hardcore fans the preseason is the only opportunity to see the roster take shape before the regular season starts.

That undrafted rookie that you’ve heard is turning heads in minicamp, the mid level free agent that is progressing into a potential starter during OTAs or the player coming off an injury and trying to get his bearings again in training camp.  Fans don’t get to see mini camps, OTAs or all of training camps, only the coaches do.  Except this season.  The preseason games have never held more importance in recent memory because the entire offseason was wiped out by the lockout.  So this preseason, the fans and coaches are in a similar situation and that makes each game far more compelling.

After watching the Lions’ preseason opener here are a few players that stood out to me, either in a good way or bad way, and my thoughts on their performance.

Amari Speivey: Spievey was flying around the field on every snap he played.  He was around the ball both against the run and in the passing game and looked much faster and quicker than last season.  What really jumped about was his excellent open field tackling, which has plagued Lions’ safeties for years.  Spievey made a pair of excellent open field tackles while contorting his body to get around blocks which is when most missed tackles occur.  If a defender can’t sqaure up and make a tackle the encounter favors the offensive player, but not when Spievey was the defender on Friday.  Andy Dalton rarely threw anything downfield so there wasn’t much to see from Spievey in coverage, but he really shined against the run and tackling after catches.

Brandon McDonald: McDonald was playing mostly against second and thrid stringers, but he made a few nice plays in coverage and tackling in the open field.  I know tackling isn’t a trait that most fans put a ton of value in for defensive backs, but the Lions’ coaches sure do.  McDonald made a great open field tackle upending Jay Finley on a third and long, preventing a first down.  He also had a nice pass breakup and generally looked good in coverage.  He gave up a few catches later in the game, but he had some nice flashes.

Drew Stanton: I know Stafford and Hill looked good as well, but I already know how good those guys can be.  I was interested to see how Stanton would look without an offseason of technique work, which is where he is weakest.  Stanton will never throw as pretty a ball as Stafford, but he really had some nice tight spirals that he put on the money.  Accuracy and pocket presence have always been Stanton’s issues, but he seemed improved in both.  Stanton usually bolts the pocket when he feels pressure and takes off running, but he moved well within the pocket and bought time for his receivers.  He had an especially nice play when he shrugged off a sack and threw across his body to Felton for a big gain.

Derrick Williams: Williams had a an up and down night, but ended on a high note.  He had two big drops that really could have rattled him.  Stanton came back and gave him a few more opportunities and he made a pair of excellent catches (one was wiped out by a holding call.)  Williams has looked great in training camp, but he’s been nonexistant in games.  He flashed some of his potential, but only after a pair of examples of his maddening inconsistancy.

Mike Bell: The run blocking was particularly good for any of the backs, so evaluating them was difficult.  That being said, Mike Bell looked very slow and he didn’t seem to have any burst or acceleration.  Bell isn’t a quick back by any means, but in his best seasons he was able to hit the hole quickly make one cut and then power his way through the hole.  He looked slow getting to the holes, which didn’t stay open very well, and he wasn’t ever able to get much going.  Again, the run blocking wasn’t very good and he had limited opportunities but Bell really needs to have a good week next week.  He’ll probably get more time with the second string, which will be his opportunity to shine, while Jerome Harrison will play with the third string.

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