With roster cuts looming, who helped their cause Thursday vs. Patriots?

Posted Aug 23, 2013

Thursday was a chance for some players to make a case for a starting spots, playing time or just a roster spot in general, in what typically is the most meaningful game of the preseason

There was a lot of good -- and some not so good -- that came out of Thursday's 40-9 rout of the New England Patriots in the regular season tune-up for the Detroit Lions.

The good was the play of the Lions defense, especially their front four, in helping to cause four turnovers. And some young players stepped up and made some plays.

The not so good was the first-team offense's inability to capitalize better on four turnovers, even though they were playing without the best receiver on the planet in Calvin Johnson.

The Lions also had too many dumb penalties, especially of the after-the-whistle, personal foul variety.

Thursday was a chance for some players to make a case for a starting spots, playing time or just a roster spot in general, in what typically is the most meaningful game of the preseason.

The Lions are required to trim their roster down to 75 players by 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

So, who helped their cause and who didn't do themselves any favors?


Joseph Fauria, TE

The big undrafted tight end out of UCLA had three catches for 44 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He played the second-most snaps on the team vs. the Patriots with 36.

Fauria has terrific hands and ideal size (6-7, 255) for the position. He's made a case to make the roster, but that might depend on how the numbers play out at tight end and receiver.

The one bad from Thursday, Fauria was flagged for a chop block, costing the Lions 15 yards.

LaAdrian Waddle, T

While we've talked a lot in training camp about the competition between Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard for that starting right tackle spot, LaAdrian Waddle has kind of snuck under the radar in his bid to be the fourth tackle.

The undrafted rookie out of Texas Tech had a consistent training camp and was rewarded with first-team reps at right tackle in the second quarter Thursday.

As he's done all camp, Waddle played well in the game and wasn't noticed, which is a good thing for an offensive lineman.

"He's a guy that's super talented," quarterback Matthew Stafford said of Waddle after the game. "Frankly, kind of bewilders me how he didn't get drafted. You look at him and he looks the part. You watch him play and he plays the part.

"I was happy for him. He's been playing well in camp. He's been playing both sides of the ball in camp so it was sure nice for him to get to stick to one side kind of with the first group and go out there and play. He's a talented kid and a guy you want to keep getting looks at."

Kellen Moore, QB

Kellen MooreQB Kellen Moore (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

Moore has been very steady through training camp, but his first two preseason games were just okay (11 of 18 for 73 yards).

Everything Moore has been showing in training camp finally translated to the field Thursday vs. the Patriots. He was decisive, accurate and ran the offense to perfection.

He finished 9-of-12 passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns. His 156.2 passer rating was nearly perfect.

"I think Kellen has been very good in camp," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "He's moved the offense, he's made good decisions and he's thrown the ball very well. I think you're just seeing an extension of that.

"Probably his most extensive playtime and he did a good job of leading us and getting some passes in there. We have been seeing that from him all training camp."

He should be securely planted as the third quarterback if he wasn't already.


Willie Young, DE

Young had one of the dumber penalties in recent Lions history. After nearly getting to Tom Brady and forcing an incomplete pass deep in Patriots territory, Young grabbed on to Brady's jersey and put his finger in his face to taunt him.

Yup, Young taunted the future Hall of Famer who has three Super Bowl rings.

Young was flagged on the play, and instead of facing 3rd-and-10 from their own 10-yard line, Young gave the Patriots a first down.

It was also his last play of the game, as he was benched following the play.

Young has played okay during the preseason, but he's fighting for reps behind Jason Jones and Ziggy Ansah. Both of those players had very good performances vs. the Patriots.

Young's status on the team isn't at all in jeopardy, but a player in a contract year should want to play as much as he can. He won't see as many reps if coaches can't trust him to make smart plays.

Nate Burleson, WR

A second consecutive game without Megatron meant another opportunity for a wide receiver to emerge and take the reigns of that No. 2 receiver spot.

We've talked a lot about the No. 4 and No. 5 receiver spots being up for grabs in camp, but has anyone established themselves as the No. 2?

Burleson, who caught 55 and 73 passes, respectively, his first two seasons with the Lions, and was on his way to a 50-catch season last year before breaking his leg, has a grand total of one catch for six yards in three preseason games.

He's had trouble separating himself from defenders these first three games and has only been targeted five times.

What's wrong with Burleson?

Is it the fact that he's played more on the outside the last two weeks? Does he need to be in the slot?

Burleson's roster status isn't in question, but the Lions need to start getting more production in the passing game outside of Johnson, the running back position and their tight ends.