Lions fans got their first live look at running back
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was as impressed with running back Mikel Leshoure’s 33-yard reception early in the first quarter or his terrific move in the backfield that turned a potential four-yard loss into a two-yard gain.
Schwartz was most impressed with an innocuous looking two-yard touchdown run on their third offensive possession.
“I think his best play was the touchdown run because you look at that and he had a cutback available to him, but he was close to the goal line, he smelled the goal line, he put his head down, he’s a big man and he bowled it over,” Schwartz said of the play.
“That’s a situation that if he retreats and tries to make that cut, we could be looking at third-and-goal from the three or the four. He sort of knew what was at stake, put his head down and went and scored.”
It was Leshoure’s first touchdown in the NFL after sitting out all of his rookie season with an Achilles injury.
“In this league, man, (running) east and west can be tough sometimes. You can lose a lot of those battle,” Leshoure said.
Leshoure finished the night with 43 yards rushing on 15 carries with a touchdown and one catch for 33 yards.
Leshoure got extended action Thursday because he now faces a two-week suspension, starting at 9 p.m. Friday. He can lift weights and be in the meeting room, but he can’t practice or play in the first two regular-season games.
The pair is quickly becoming one of the best quarterback-receiver duos in the NFL and their 24-yard touchdown connection against the Bills is proof of that. Stafford threw an absolute laser to the back shoulder of Johnson, who grabbed it behind one defender and in front of another.
In four preseason games, Stafford and Johnson hooked up nine times for 178 yards (19.8 average) with two touchdowns.
Stafford finished the preseason 26-of-37 passing for 360 yards with three touchdowns and one interception with a 70.3 completion percentage and a 116.9 rating.
Already in midseason form?
After a rocky start to the preseason on special teams, particularly on coverage units, the Lions have look vastly improved the last two weeks ... for the most part.
Over their previous 10 kickoffs (until a 100-yard touchdown return allowed by the reserve team Thursday night) the Lions’ last two preseason opponents had an average starting position of the 16-yard line.
The last 10 kickoffs before the touchdown, opponent drives started on the 16-, 20-, 18-, 17-, 12-, 9-, 17-, 13- and 21-yard lines with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery mixed in there.
It hasn’t just been the coverage units the last two week’s, either.
The Lions have bounced back nicely on the coverage units special teams the last two weeks.
Field goal kicking was another story.
The Lions had a 35-yard attempt blocked and
The Lions have to trim their roster from 75 players to 53 by the 9 p.m. deadline Friday night.
At least one of those players will make the final roster. Potentially two if the team decides to keep six receivers.
Osgood seems to be the most likely candidate to make it at this point. The Lions acquired him last week to improve their special teams units and adds experience and a Pro Bowl resume to the unit.
Thursday night was the last chance for the others to make a case for the team keeping six receivers.
Edwards had a nice 30-yard punt return but didn’t contribute much offensively.
Stovall had a chance to make two big plays Thursday, but couldn’t hang on to what would have been a difficult touchdown catch in the second quarter and also dropped a third-down pass that would have kept a series alive.
Of those final six receivers trying to make the roster, Long made the biggest impact on offense with 3 catches for 51 yards against the Bills.