The Detroit Lions spent two days in Indianapolis practicing in pads against the Colts. There were enough game-worthy reps given to the starters over those two days, that the coaching staff has opted to scale back the veteran’s snap counts in Game 2 of the preseason.
“There’ll be a number of these guys that will not play in this game,” coach Dan Campbell told the media on Thursday. “A number of our starters, because they’re getting kind of the bulk of the reps—but there’ll be a number of guys that have gotten the load here that will still play in this game.
“Certainly, we’ve got a lot of battles still going on, but that would be the plan with this Saturday. That’s probably kind of like the structure of, you get two really good days of work and now you don’t really feel like you need to go to the game with them.”
Which players will get rest during the game is very challenging to predict, so for this week’s depth chart projection, we will present the roster as we see it. That way, you can see who would be expected to start if this were a regular season game, and who the next man up will likely be in this preseason contest.
To help out your viewing experience, we have listed each player’s number next to their name, bolded the projected starters, italicized the injured players with an estimated 50% or less chance to play, and added an asterisk* after the rookies’ names.
- Jared Goff (16) — don’t expect him to play
- David Blough (10)
- Tim Boyle (12)
Last week, the Lions coaches tried to get Goff to sit out the game, but when he saw his fellow starters were playing, he went to the coaches and asked to start. With several starters likely being held out this week, look for Goff to stay on the sidelines in Indianapolis.
The reserve quarterbacks continue to rotate days, and technically it’s Boyle’s turn, but because he was first up in preseason game 1, it will likely be Blough’s turn to get the start against the Colts.
Running back (6 + 1 injured)
- D’Andre Swift (32) — getting regular veteran rest as part of health management
- Jamaal Williams (30) — Co-starter
- Craig Reynolds (46)
- Jermar Jefferson (28)
- Godwin Igwebuike (35)
- Justin Jackson (42)
- Jason Cabinda (45), FB — PUP list
The Lions have been managing Swift’s reps all camp, often giving him rest days, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he took Saturday off as a precaution. Williams might see starting reps in this game, but as a veteran with an established role, he could also cede his reps to the reserves, who are in a battle for one or two spots on the 53-man roster.
Wide receiver (9 + 1)
- DJ Chark (4)
- Josh Reynolds (8)
- Amon-Ra St. Brown (14)
- Kalif Raymond (11)
- Quintez Cephus (87) — returned from injury this week, could still be held out of the game
- Trinity Benson (17)
- Tom Kennedy (85)
- Maurice Alexander (15)
- Kalil Pimpleton* (83)
- Jameson Williams* (9) — NFI listexpected to remain out through at least Week 1
It’s quite possible the starting trio rests—which may be a big ask of St. Brown. And with Cephus still reacclimating due to injury, the Lions may have just five receivers active on Saturday. All remaining five receivers are under 6 feet tall, but possess sub-4.5 speed, save Kennedy who ran a 4.55-second 40-yard-dash. Of course, that fast time doesn’t really impede Kennedy’s production, as he led the NFL in receiving yards during the preseason going into this week. If Blough starts, don’t be surprised if his close friend Kennedy does as well.
tight ends (6)
- TJ Hockenson (88) — has gotten a few veteran rest days
- Brock Wright (89)
- Shane Zylstra (84)
- James Mitchell* (82)
- Devin Funchess (13) — injured on Wednesday (stinger), missed Thursday’s practice
- Derrick Deese Jr.* (48)
Wright looked like he cemented himself as TE2 after the first preseason game, and the release of Garrett Griffin further cements that idea. While Mitchell did not see any action in the first game, the team remains high on him as a tight end of the future. Zylstra and Funchess are in a battle to convince the coaching staff there is room for a fourth tight end—which seems possible if Jason Cabinda remains on the PUP—but Funchess was injured in practice (again) and may not be available for this game.
Expected starting offensive line (14)
- LT — Taylor Decker (68) — getting regular veteran as he recovers from a foot injury
- LG — Jonah Jackson (73)
- C — Frank Ragnow (77)
- RG — Halapoulivaati Vaitai (72)
- RT — Like Sewell (58)
- LT — Dan Skipper (70)
- LG — Logan Stenberg (71)
- C — Evan Brown (63)
- RG — Tommy Kraemer (78)
- RT — Matt Nelson (67)
- LT — Kendall Lamm (76)
- LG — Darrin Paulo (66)
- C — Brown and Kraemer each took reps here after Ryan McCollum was waived
- RG — Kevin Jarvis* (75) — injured at practice this week
- RT — Obinna Eze* (65)
Things could get a bit complicated this week if the starters rest because the depth on the interior offensive line is a bit thin. Third-string center Ryan McCollum was released this week, while rookie Kevin Jarvis is injured and may not be able to play. This could force the Lions’ second-string guards to pull double duty, with Kraemer filling in at center with the third unit and Stenberg working opposite Paulo.
Interior defensive line (6 + 1)
- DL — Michael Brockers (90)
- NT — Alim McNeill (54)
- DL — Levi Onwuzurike (91) — injured, missed practice most of the last three weeks
- DL — Jason Cornell (96)
- NT — Isaiah Buggs (98)
- DL — Bruce Hector (92)
- DL — Demetrius Taylor* (62)
This group struggled in game one against the Falcons but got several glowing reports for their efforts during joint practices in Indianapolis. Things seem more wide open than originally thought, so this could be a very important group to keep an eye on.
EDGE Rushers (6 + 3)
- Big DE — Aidan Hutchinson* (97)
- Rush DE — Charles Harris (53)
- SAM — Julian Okwara (99) — Injured, missed all this week, two practices the week prior
- Big DE — Austin Bryant (2)
- Big DE — John Cominsky (79)
- SAM — James Houston* (59)
- Big DE — Eric Banks (94)
- Rush DE — Romeo Okwara (95) — PUP list
- Big DE — Josh Paschal* (93) — PUP list
Another position group where there are opportunities to make some noise and potentially separate themselves on the depth chart.
Off-the-ball linebacker (8)
- Alex Anzalone (34)
- Malcolm Rodriguez* (44)
- Derrick Barnes (55)
- Chris Board (49)
- Anthony Pittman (57)
- Jarrad Davis (40)
- Josh Woods (51)
- Shaun Dion Hamilton (50)
The linebacker group remains unsettled in both determining starters and depth. It sure looks like Rodriguez has grabbed a hold of one of the starting roles, but pressure from Barnes and Board remains. Pittman is still the likely fifth linebacker due to his special teams abilities and subpackage work—keep an eye on him on the edge in obvious passing situations and during two-minute defense. Davis, Woods, and Hamilton all looked solid against the Falcons third stringers, but they’ll need to show up against better competition to stay in the fight.
Cornerback (7 + 1)
- Amani Oruwariye (24)
- Jeff Okudah (1) or Will Harris (25)
- Bobby Price (27)
- Mark Gilbert (29)
- Saivion Smith (19)
- Cedric Boswell* (35)
- Jerry Jacobs (39) — PUP list
The competition between Okudah and Harris remains ongoing, although it’s worth noting that Okudah’s name showed up a bunch this week in joint practices. The battle among the reserves is also an open competition, and with probably only one spot open, this is another important defensive battle.
- AJ Parker (41)
- Mike Hughes (23)
- Chase Lucas* (36)
Hughes was shifted inside based on his usage in preseason game one and during practices, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get some reps outside this week. After dropping an interception in game one, Lucas got some redemption early in the week and if he can continue to stack positive days, he could rise up the depth chart.
Safety (5 + 1)
- Tracy Walker (21)
- DeShon Elliott (5)
- Ifeatu Melifonwu (26) — injured, missed practice the past two weeks
- Kerby Joseph* (31)
- CJ Moore (38) — things have been slow returning from injury, only special teams work
- JuJu Hughes (33)
With Melifonwu surely out and Moore slowly being reintroduced back into team drills after returning from injury, we could see a lot of Joseph and Hughes this week.
Kicking team (4)
- P — Jack Fox (3)
- LS — Scott Daly (47)
- K — Austin Seibert (19) or Riley Patterson (6)
The kicker battle rolls on. Here’s a look at the kicking results so far (green = made, red = miss):
- Punt return — Kalif Raymond (11)
- PR reserve: Maurice Alexander (15), Kalil Pimpleton (83), Amon-Ra St. Brown (14)
- Kick return — Godwin Igwebuike (35)
- KR reserve — Trinity Benson (17), Maurice Alexander (15), D’Andre Swift (32)
The Lions are going to keep giving players opportunities to knock Raymond and Igwebuike off their spots, but both should feel fairly comfortable based on what we have seen.
Kick coverage specialists
- Kickoffs — Austin Seibert (19) or Riley Patterson (6)
- Holder — Jack Fox (3)
- Gunner — Bobby Price (27), Ifeatu Melifonwu (26), Trinity Benson (17), AJ Parker (41)
- Personal protector (PP) — CJ Moore (38), Tracy Walker (21)
Kickoffs will play a factor in the kicking battle, so keep an eye on the differences between the kickers here.
At-a-glance projected depth chart
If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s an at-a-glance look at what was discussed above: