Preseason finale means different things to different players

Posted Aug 27, 2013

Some players are fighting for a spot on the Lions' 53; others are fighting for opportunities elsewhere

The NFL is a business.

That's no more transparent than on days like Tuesday and Saturday, when the Lions have to make cuts to reach mandated roster limits.

Tuesday, it was getting down to 75 players. Saturday, all NFL teams have to have their 53-man roster set by 6 p.m. ET.

That means another 22 players will have their hopes of playing in the NFL – at least with the Detroit Lions – dashed in the coming days.

It's another reason players on that "roster bubble" know how important it is to make one final impression on coaches in the preseason finale in Buffalo.

"It's critical No. 1, making our team and No. 2, playing well enough that they can be considered by other teams," head coach Jim Schwartz said of the importance of Thursday's preseason finale in Buffalo for a number of players.

"We're not going to be able to keep all 75 guys. We're going to have to cut down and other teams are in the same position. Those guys are competing not just with guys in our own locker room for spots on our team, but across the NFL. This is certainly a time some of those guys will have their most extended play time during the preseason, which will be important also for them to be able to show well."

Players know there might be opportunities somewhere else -- if not with the Lions -- and need to put a good performance on tape.

Jimmy Saddler-McQueenDT Jimmy Saddler-McQueen (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

"I'm extremely excited," said defensive lineman Xavier Proctor. "The last few games I played some, but this game I'm supposed to play the majority of it, so I'm excited."

For a player like Proctor, or fellow defense lineman Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, they know the numbers game might not fall in their favor in Detroit. So it's about making plays in Buffalo, leaving an impression on coaches and maybe impressing someone else.

"I've been in and out of the league for four years now and I'm trying to make someone's roster," said Saddler-McQueen, who played one game with Dallas in 2010 and one game last year with Detroit.

"Obviously, you have to stand out on film to get someone to look at you. You better get in the groove early. You better figure out your opponent."

Even players like receiver Patrick Edwards and tight end Joseph Fauria, who seem to currently hold a roster spot, look at the fourth preseason game as an opportunity to make one final case for inclusion on the final 53.

"As long as I'm out there getting separation and winning my one-on-one battles, the balls and the catches will come," said Edwards. "I'd like to get out there and play as much as I can to show more and be more productive.

"It's very important to show that you're being consistent. They're trusting you to make plays and know where you're supposed to be and it's always good to leave one last good impression."