2011 Detroit Lions: Who Will Win the Battle of the Backfield?
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The Detroit Lions preseason was wrapped up last night with a 16-6 win over the Buffalo Bills. As expected, most of the game was played by the men trying to make their final impressions with the hopes of surviving the next deep cut to the roster.
By the end of this weekend, the Lions have to go from 80 players down to their 53-man roster. Perhaps for the first time in a long time, these cuts will be very difficult to make.
The Lions have created a strong team with plenty of depth, which means that some of the players who have made the depth as solid as it is, will be cut. The good news for them is that they can still be picked up by another team. The good news for the Lions is that having too many solid players is a decent problem to have.
While there were many noteworthy positional battles taking place over this preseason, there may not be any as intriguing as the battle for the backfield.
Last season the Lions struggled with their secondary. This season they may end up cutting at least one starter from last year at the cornerback position and make a surprise move at safety.
If the players won a roster spot only by how they played this preseason, the list would look very differently. There are first-string players who are a lock to make the cuts even though they may not have had great stats over the last four games. For instance, Ndamukong Suh did not post a single sack while Narada Williams and Quinn Pitcock did. Does this mean either one will usurp Suh? Of course not.
When making predictions or projections, it takes a bit of science, a bit of art and a bit of luck. Who might the Lions see as being with the team longer? Who fills specific needs while also being a versatile player? Who has shown the most progress and who has been the most consistent? Who can start or provide back up from day one and who is considered a "project?"
Rest assured that whoever the Lions choose to keep, will be the players Jim Schwartz (HC) and Martin Mayhew (GM) believe will continue to take this team to the next level. Some of the players may not be there yet, but have shown their potential to grow into top level talent.
With all of this said, here are my final predictions on who makes the roster cuts in the secondary and who does not.
Cornerbacks: Chris Houston, Alphonso Smith, Eric Wright, Brandon McDonald, Nathan Vasher and Aaron Berry if they keep six active. Out: Paul Pratt, Prince Miller. Paul Pratt would be the best bet to keep on the practice squad.
Safeties: Louis Delmas, Amari Spievey, Eric Coleman, and Ricardo Silva. Out: John Wendling, Aaron Francisco and Randy Phillips.
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