With the preseason and training camp wrapping up, the Detroit Lions are finishing their 53-man roster. The team finished their first set of cuts on Monday, but still have plenty more tough decisions to make.
Not much glory comes with a place on an NFL practice squad. However, it does come with chance and opportunity for young players in search of a future in football.
The Lions have plenty of candidates for the practice squad. These eight should make that cut, as well as progress steadily over the course of the season.
WR Patrick Edwards
The Lions have arguably solidified their wide receiver depth chart for the next several years. With Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles rounding out the core of wideouts, Patrick Edwards is left on the outside looking in.
Given Edwards' skill set, he is still capable of at the least filling in as a gunner on special teams. Edwards is a speedster out of Houston with tremendous hands and a credible work ethic. Edwards has yet to really shine during the preseason, but he's shown bright spots throughout training camp. Don't expect the Lions to dismiss the 5'9", 175-pound rookie so quickly.
LB Carmen Messina
Linebacker Carmen Messina has been a pleasant surprise during training camp and preseason. Messina said he wouldn't mind playing on the practice squad if necessary. Based on his audition this offseason, he may very well get his wish.
Messina has had two standout performances in the preseason after recording seven tackles against Cleveland, and intercepting a fourth quarter pass in the red zone against Baltimore. Messina has quickly picked up the defense and has made quite an impression on the coaching staff.
The Lions already have a log jam of linebackers, which would then make Messina the odd man out. However, one more positive performance against Buffalo this Thursday could help ensure a practice spot with the Lions for Messina.
G Rodney Austin
The Lions' offensive line has tacked one more year together, which equals more continuity and hopefully an increase of production. They've shown positive signs in games such as against Cleveland and the ugly side against Oakland. Improvement or not, it will be quite difficult for guard Rodney Austin to fight for a starting job.
Austin is a decent depth option at guard for the Lions. Capable of playing both, Austin has seen reps on both sides of the line at guard. The Lions more than likely have their role players set already with Jason Fox and Riley Reiff, leaving Austin as nothing more than a practice squad candidate.
QB Kellen Moore
Kellen Moore has had a rough transition to the NFL. So far, he's displayed less than impressive arm strength, impatience in the pocket, and inaccurate shots down the field. Moore will need a dramatic performance on Thursday against Buffalo to avoid getting cut.
Moore was signed as an undrafted project player. As long as Matthew Stafford is healthy, Moore won't get a chance to sniff the field. However, the Lions are currently dealing with three quarterbacks, including Moore. Look for the Lions to continue to groom Moore for the future, but from the practice squad.
DT Tracy Robertson
There's no such thing as too many defensive tackles at the Detroit Lions' disposal. The main focus of the defense is high penetration from the defensive line.
Rookie Tracy Robertson from Baylor has been quiet this offseason, but with the high focus on defensive ends and tackles, he could find himself on the practice squad. Learning behind guys like Ndamukong Suh can't hurt your future, right?
TE Austin Wells & Austin Gottlieb
The Lions have arguably one of the better tight ends corps in the NFL. With Brandon Pettigrew poised for a breakout season and consistent play from Tony Scheffler and Will Heller, there won't be much space left for other tight ends.
Rookies Austin Wells and Gottlieb will look to make the roster, but it wouldn't be as a tight end. They each could spend time on the practice squad, then get called on as a special teams filler. With not many opportunities promised, they'll need to make full use of their time.
G Pat Boyle
The Lions can use all the depth available on the offensive line. The main goal of the offense is to keep Matthew Stafford healthy this season, and for as long as he's a Lion.
Pat Boyle has seen the majority of his time at right guard, which could be a position under fire, depending on Stephen Peterman's play. Boyle should land a spot on the practice team with chance to learn and improve his skills as a lineman.
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