Thursday's game vs. the Patriots is the dry run. It's the dress rehearsal. The preseason game all NFL teams treat as the tune-up for the regular season, which is a little more than two weeks away.
The Lions have treated this week of preparation like a regular season week and the starters are expected to get quality reps in the game. This game means a little more, which means individual performances mean a little more.
Here are 10 players to keep an eye Thursday night:
Stafford has completed 14 of 24 passes for 132 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Those numbers aren't bad, but Stafford has orchestrated only seven first downs on seven drives with six points (two field goals) through the first two games. Head coach Jim Schwartz told the media earlier this week that he'd feel a lot better if the offense put a couple good scoring drives together.
Will they play?
Johnson has been battling a bruised knee over the last week. He said Tuesday he plans on playing. It's risk/reward playing Johnson Thursday. Coaches certainly don't want to do anything to further aggravate the knee, but they'd also like to get their offense humming with all its weapons in play.
As for Delmas, he also told the media he wanted to play. If last year is any indication, Delmas doesn't really need it, though. He missed all of the preseason and the first four regular season games and came back in Philly and had his best game of the season. Rest that knee and get it ready for Minnesota Sept. 8.
He might be the most physically gifted of all the cornerbacks the Lions have on the roster. Thursday could be the first time the second-year player runs out of the Ford Field tunnel and onto the field with a helmet on. The former fifth-round pick missed all of the preseason and regular season as a rookie because of an abdominal injury. He missed the first two preseason games this season with a hamstring injury. Greenwood is running out of time to make an impression on coaches. He practiced all week, and if he plays, he probably has more to prove than any other Lions player who'll take the field.
Bentley has spent all of training camp as the starting nickel cornerback. But after two subpar performances to start the preseason, the Lions went out and signed veteran
The Lions are still looking for a No. 4 receiver to emerge behind Johnson,
Slay replaced veteran
The big tight end had a good week of practice and coaches are expected to take a long look at him vs. the Patriots. It's not out of the realm of possibility the Lions decide to keep four tight ends and four receivers. Fauria and
It looks like Warford and veteran
Suh likes the big stage. When the Patriots are on the field, it's a big stage. Suh joked this week that he'd like to get more acquainted with Brady come Thursday night. Suh has played very well from the first day of training camp. He's the new leader along that defensive front and needs to have the big fellas upfront ready for a very good test in the Patriots. That line goes as he goes.