Detroit Lions: 5 Players Firmly on the Roster Bubble

Chris MaddenAnalyst IIJune 24, 2013

Detroit Lions: 5 Players Firmly on the Roster Bubble

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    The Detroit Lions' training camp is right around the corner, and there are a number of players who will use that time to try to win a roster spot.

    Position battles are won and lost during training camp, but those battles are usually between two or three players who are all but assured roster spots.

    Other players are simply battling to make the roster. These players are on the bubble, and one bad day could cause that bubble to burst.

    Here are five such players who have their work cut out for them.

5. Thad Lewis, QB

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    Being a third-string quarterback is a precarious position on any team. Joining a new team and competing for the job is even more so.

    That's the situation Thad Lewis finds himself in with the Lions. Needless to say, he probably hasn't unpacked his bags yet.

    Lewis was brought in to compete with Kellen Moore for the third-string QB job. Last season, he was a backup for the Cleveland Browns but started a game for them in December, a 10-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    He lost the game, but he has more NFL-game experience than Moore, who hasn't sniffed playing time during a regular-season game.

    With that said, Lewis will have to blow Moore out of the water to win a roster spot. The Lions signed Moore as a rookie and have invested time and money into his development.

    Last year, he struggled during preseason games and his arm strength was questioned, but he's already shown improvements, as reported by Justin Rogers of MLive.com:

    "Kellen Moore is taking advantage of the extra reps at quarterback. He looks much more comfortable in the offense and made some nice throws during the 7-on-7 portions of practice."

    There's nothing wrong with healthy competition. Unfortunately for Lewis, that's really all he is. His chances of making the roster are very slim. 

4. Carmen Messina, LB

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    The third-linebacker position battle has been a frequent topic of discussion this offseason, and it will continue to be during training camp as well.

    Ashlee Palmer, Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis will compete for the starting job. Carmen Messina's name will not be mentioned in the discussion though.

    Actually, Messina's name hasn't been mentioned much at all. Very little has been written about his offseason performance thus far. 

    Messina impressed fans and coaches alike last summer with his work ethic and gritty preseason performances. For that, the undrafted rookie out of New Mexico was rewarded with a spot on the Lions' practice squad.

    That might be where he ends up this year too. The Lions currently have 10 linebackers on their roster, and Messina is near the bottom of the depth chart. His best bet to win a spot is by making a name for himself on special teams.

    That won't be an easy task. The Lions brought in linebacker and four-year pro Corey Greenwood, who was a special teams ace for the Chiefs. He appeared in 48 games for them over the past three years, according to The Associated Press (via Fox News).

    Greenwood has a great chance of stepping into a special teams role with the Lions, but it would likely be at the expense of Messina.

    To muddy the waters even further, Messina will need to contend with Brandon Hepburn, whom the Lions drafted in the seventh round last year.

3. Kris Durham, WR

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    Kris Durham, in his first NFL start, made one of the best catches of the year for the Lions in early December.

    Durham was activated from the Lions' practice squad due to their injury depleted receiving corps, and he didn't disappoint, making a one-handed highlight-reel catch.

    However, he didn't light the world on fire the rest of the game, or the rest of the year either. Durham's totals from the four games he appeared in are modest at best, per ESPN.com. However he does have potential for much more.

    Particularly if he's able to develop the same kind of chemistry he had with Stafford in college. They were not only teammates but roommates as well.

    Durham clearly has skills, and his friendship with Stafford certainly won't hurt his chances; however, he's fighting for one of the last roster spots among a crowded field of receivers.

    Patrick Edwards, Devin Thomas, Mike Thomas, Micheal Spurlock and Corey Fuller are all players Durham will have to contend with. They are smaller, quicker receivers whose versatility might give them an edge.

    On the other hand, Durham is a big target, and he's proven he can catch. He'll need to prove he's taken several more steps forward in his development to win a roster spot though.

2. Havard Rugland, K

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    By now most people have seen Havard Rugland's YouTube video and know that he's an intriguing prospect. On the video, his accuracy is amazing and his leg strength is equally impressive.

    However, there's a big difference between kicking balls in your backyard and doing it on Sundays in the NFL.

    How Rugland's skills translate from practice to the real thing is the big question and one that will determine his fate in Detroit.

    Unfortunately for him, he could do everything right and still not make the team. That's because his competition for the Lions' kicking job is six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro David Akers.

    Sure, Akers had a terrible year for the San Francisco 49ers last season, but injuries were the primary reason for it. If he's healthy, it would be hard to imagine the Lions opting to go with Rugland, whose inexperience cannot be understated.

    His first time wearing a football helmet was during rookie minicamp for crying out loud!

    It will be an interesting competition to say the least; however, if Akers is healthy, Rugland's time in Detroit will be short.

1. Bill Nagy, G

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    The Lions' current roster of offensive guards has grown over the past few weeks, and that's not good news for Bill Nagy.

    According to MLive.com's Justin Rogers, Nagy hasn't participated in any team practices this offseason as he continues to recover from ankle surgery.

    The longer he misses time, the greater the chance his roster spot will be given to someone else.

    The Lions certainly have plenty of players to choose from. Besides Larry Warford, the current favorite to start at right guard, they signed veterans Jake Scott and Leroy Harris to provide much needed depth.

    Rodney Austin is another young player whose shown development this offseason and figures to be in the mix.

    When the Lions signed Nagy last year, fans' expectations were high even though he came with a significant injury history. It's the reason why the Dallas Cowboys were willing to part ways with him.

    Yet his youth and versatility gave Lions fans hope that he would one day take over either the guard or center position.

    That's looking less and less likely. We've seen the Lions be patient with an injury-prone offensive lineman before (Jason Fox), however, that was with a player they drafted. Nagy was not drafted by Martin Mayhew, and the Lions don't have a lot invested in him.

    If he's not fully able to participate during training camp, his roster bubble will burst quickly.