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TWENTYMAN: 5 players who impressed in Preseason Week 1

Before we turn the page on the first week of the preseason and get ready for another work week that includes Saturday's second preseason matchup in Pittsburgh on Saturday, let's take one last look back at Friday's preseason opener and five players who caught my eye:

1. Defensive end Kevin Strong

Detroit's defensive line is expected to have pretty depth this year, especially along the interior, but the team is dealing with some injuries early in camp, which means players like Strong got an opportunity to play some good minutes against Buffalo.

Strong played 34 snaps Friday and was all over the place. He finished with six tackles, one tackle for loss and a forced fumble that Buffalo jumped on.

Strong played in six games for Detroit last season with one start and recorded 15 tackles, two quarterback hits and a sack. He's got a chance to be a nice depth player up front for Detroit's defense, and Friday was a good start to his preseason.

2. Defensive end Bruce Hector

Let's stick along the defensive line for a moment and mention veteran Bruce Hector, who was claimed off waivers by Detroit right before training camp started.

Hector's played 11 career NFL games with Philadelphia with a half sack to his credit. He's had a solid camp so far, and Friday, Hector was really active. He played 65 percent of the defensive snaps and notched four tackles, one sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit.

Like Strong, Hector is trying to earn a reserve role upfront on defense, and Friday was a nice start for him to get into that conversation.

3. Running back Craig Reynolds

After signing with Detroit on Thursday, Reynolds worked his way into Friday's preseason opener and showed out. He carried the ball eight times for 49 yards, including a brilliant 24-yard scamper for Detroit's lone touchdown on the night in the fourth quarter.

The 5-foot-11, 225-pound back averaged 8.2 yards per carry against the Bills.

"It's impressive. It really is," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Reynolds' night. "He's kind of a guy where we'll see where this goes, but he's got that look in his eye and he did when he walked in (Thursday). You can tell it's like, 'Hey, man, I'm here to compete. I'll know enough of this playbook. You can put me in there.'

"He's thick, he's in great shape. Brad (Holmes) had worked him out. We were coming off the field, and Brad was like, 'This kid's in phenomenal shape. I'd love to see this guy carry it,' as we all would. He did some good things."

The Lions know what they have in running backs D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, but the third and fourth running back jobs are still up for grabs. Can Reynolds be part of that conversation?

4. Quarterback David Blough

The battle for the backup quarterback job is probably closer than most people thought it would be between Tim Boyle and Blough two weeks into training camp.

Blough played roughly half as many snaps as Boyle Friday (30 to 17), but Blough had the bigger impact. He completed 5-of-6 passes for 76 yards and finished with a 118.2 passer rating. He led Detroit to a couple fourth-quarter scoring drives and looked pretty good doing it.

The competition to decide who backs up Jared Goff is far from over.

5. Outside linebacker Julian Okwara

It was a tough rookie season for the former third-round pick by the Lions in 2020. Okwara didn't have a preseason last year and ended up playing in just six regular season games a year ago because of injuries.

No Lions player had more snaps Friday night than Okwara, who was in there for 78 percent of the snaps on defense.

"We felt like it was important for him to – we felt like he really needed a load," Campbell said. "Look, he's a young guy. He's a young guy that is still developing and we felt like it was important for him to come out and see how he responded."

Campbell said Okwara had a good first week of camp and then had a bit of a downturn, and he wanted to see how he handled the first preseason game. Okwara did just fine, recording a sack, nearly getting another one, and also recording three tackles, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit.

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