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FOUR DOWNS: Washington making his mark


Rookie running back Dwayne Washington didn't just make a case for inclusion on the 53-man roster – which appears to be a lock at this point – he's made a case for some playing time when the games start counting for real.

He's shown speed, power and playmaking ability across the board over the last month, from his 96-yard kickoff return Week 1 in Pittsburgh, to his 58-yard touchdown scamper in Thursday's 31-0 win over Buffalo in the preseason finale.

"Young guy Washington shows he's got some ability," head coach Jim Caldwell said with a big smile after Thursday's game. "That once he gets a crack he can do something with it. He's not only a big back, but he's got speed."

Washington led the Lions in rushing this preseason with a 5.8 yard per attempt rushing average.

Ameer Abdullah enters the regular season as the team's No. 1 back, but Washington has at least earned an opportunity to get a few carries early on in the regular season to see if he can continue the hot streak he's been on over the last month.


In 2014, Caldwell and the Lions entered the regular season with three quarterbacks – Matthew Stafford, Dan Orlovsky and Kellen Moore on the 53-man roster.

Last season, he kept just Stafford and Orlovsky.

The Lions have until 4 p.m. Saturday to decide what they're going to do in 2016 when it comes to the quarterback position, but rookie Jake Rudock certainly made a good case for inclusion in his final exhibition game.

Rudock showed poise and an ability to make plays outside of the pocket on the way to completing 14-of-23 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions vs. the Bills. His final passer rating was a 123.7.

"I hope so," Rudock said when asked after the game if he did enough to make the roster. "I mean, that's the goal, obviously. But yeah, I think I played well, showed some improvement, but at the same time just still learning so much. That's very important."

Rudock played well Thursday, and it would be more of a surprise at this point if he didn't make the initial 53-man roster. Orlovsky still appears to be Stafford's backup quarterback heading into the season, but Rudock's shown enough over the last month that makes him a solid investment moving forward.


Jace Billingsley had never been to an NFL game before he stepped on the field Week 1 of the preseason in Pittsburgh. He admits he was in a bit of awe at the time.

Billingsley said there were more fans that attended the Lions first training camp practice than typically attended his games at Eastern Oregon.

So, for him to have made it this far, and to now be part of the conversation for the Lions' last roster spot at receiver is a credit to the 5-foot-9, 189-pound slot receiver.

"I don't know what they are thinking. We have great receivers," Billingsley said after catching seven passes for 80 yards, including a one-handed 10 yard touchdown vs. the Bills. "I think I've done enough to at least make it a difficult decision. We'll see."

Billingsley handled all of the kickoff and punt return duties Thursday night and finished the preseason as the team's leader in receptions (12), yards (146) and touchdowns (2).

At the very least, he's a terrific practice squad candidate for the Lions.


When general manager Bob Quinn and his staff sit down with the coaching staff over the next 36 hours and debate who their top 53 players are, it's a pretty safe bet that one of the toughest decisions will come at the defensive tackle position.

Stefan Charles, Caraun Reid and Gabe Wright look to be competing for what might end up being just one spot, depending how the numbers play out.

Of that trio, Reid made more splash plays in Thursday's last opportunity to impress those decision makers. All three of his tackles vs. the Bills occurred in Buffalo's backfield. He was quick off the ball and disruptive, which defensive coordinator Teryl Austin expects from his defensive tackles.

Charles, a veteran signed by the Lions in free agency, was credited with an assisted tackle.

Wright, who was drafted in the fourth round last season, notched three total tackles.

Haloti Ngata, Tyrunn Walker, A'Shawn Robinson and Khyri Thornton appear to be the top four heading into the regular season. If the Lions keep a fifth tackle, who will it be? Did Reid flash enough Thursday to earn a third season in Detroit?

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