Detroit Lions: 4 Players to Watch vs. Cleveland Browns
Put up or shut up time has finally come for the Detroit Lions—sort of.
Lots of stock usually isn't put into the NFL preseason. However, with a crop of new talent on the roster, the Lions will be measured more than normal. With several rookies capable of making a splash and plenty of position battles, Detroit's preseason opener will be under a bright microscope.
A good deal of players will be looking to make a great first impression today at Ford Field. Here are four Lions to keep your eye on versus the Cleveland Browns.
1. WR Patrick Edwards
Patrick Edwards joined the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent in late April. After a standout collegiate career at Houston and some highlight-reel catches during training camp, Edwards will be looking to earn a roster spot.
At only 5'9" and 175 pounds, Edwards makes up what he lacks in size with his speed and hands. Coaches and teammates have been pleased with his production and work ethic thus far. With the starting wide receivers essentially filled already, Edwards will have to make the most of his time.
Edwards is expected to get plenty of reps on offense as well as special teams. Look for Edwards at receiver and in the return game. The young speedster should continue to turn heads and impress during the presesaon.
2. OL Riley Reiff
A great deal of attention will be on first-round tackle Riley Reiff in today's exhibition. The Lions were fortunate enough to have Reiff fall to them at No. 23 in this years' draft. Today will be a brief test of what can be expected from their young lineman.
Reiff is listed as the No. 2 left tackle behind starter Jeff Backus. He's spent the majority of training camp practicing with the second team. That trend should continue today against Cleveland.
Reiff is versatile and capable of playing the left- and right-side tackle, as well as guard. In the first exhibition game, position-shifting is highly unlikely. Still expect plenty of playing time for Reiff in his preseason debut.
3. CB Bill Bentley
No rookie has produced more of a buzz within the Lions than cornerback Bill Bentley. The instinctive defender from Louisiana-Lafayette was listed as the No. 2 cornerback behind Alphonso Smith before today's game. Head coach Jim Schwartz changed his mind deciding to start Bentley ahead of Smith.
Bentley was selected in the third round of this years' draft. So far Bentley has sprouted as a gem on the Lions' defense. With smart instincts and great speed, Bentley can become the playmaker this secondary has been missing.
Bentley has seen plenty of reps with the first team defense across from left cornerback Chris Houston. Defensive rookies are tested heavily by opposing offenses. Bentley will receive a good number of opportunities to display his talent today.
4. S Erik Coleman
An injured Louis Delmas watching from the sideline creates an opportunity to shine. Erik Coleman will fill in as Delmas' replacement today at free safety.
Coleman was signed to compete as the opposite safety last season after being released by the Atlanta Falcons. Coleman spent a big portion of last season injured and unable to compete. After re-signing with the Lions this offseason, Coleman has his shot at redemption.
The eight-year veteran is versatile and able to play both free and strong safety in the Lions' secondary. Replacing the leadership and intensity of Delmas is no simple task. However, Coleman is a savvy player who can keep the Lions in check.