Head coach Dan Campbell used the word 'dependable' to describe veteran wide receiver Tom Kennedy last week after he caught eight passes for 104 yards in the preseason opener against Atlanta.
After Kennedy caught two touchdowns in Saturday's 27-26 Week 2 preseason victory in Indianapolis, Campbell joked he needed a new word to describe Kennedy this week. He thought for a second and chose 'reliable.'
"He's just reliable," Campbell said. "That's all he is, reliable."
Kennedy has impressed in the preseason and in training camp, and that's put him in the conversation for one of the final roster spots at receiver. Kennedy iced the win by recovering an onside kick at the end, and he's done a good job as a gunner and jammer when asked to play that role on the outside on special teams.
Those are important aspects that Kennedy has to show. It's hard to be the fifth or sixth receiver on the team and not be a big contributor on special teams.
"That's why we put him out there at the gunner and jammer, to get some looks at him," Campbell said. "I would say he didn't disappoint. We're trying to give him every opportunity to make this team, that's what that means, because he just won't go away, and that's a good thing."
Kennedy said after the game he'll play anywhere and do whatever it takes to make this team and keep up the trust he's earned from his head coach.
"It's something that takes so long to earn but then you can lose it pretty quickly," Kennedy said of the trust he's built with Campbell and the coaching staff. "Just trying to keep (his) trust every single day and just continue to prove him right, basically."
Kennedy has certainly been doing that, and at this point, it will be pretty hard to keep him off the 53-man roster.
OKUDAH VS. HARRIS
With Oruwariye getting the afternoon off Saturday, along with most of the starters on Detroit's defense, Okudah and Harris got an opportunity to start and show what they could do.
Okudah has played in only 10 games since being the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft because of core muscle and Achilles injuries, but he's finally healthy and hoping to stay that way to show he can be a productive player in this secondary.
Harris is making the full-time transition to cornerback after playing safety most of the last three seasons. He's tough and physical, and the Lions like his skillset on the outside.
Both guys played a few series Saturday.
Harris allowed a 23-yard completion to Colts wide receiver Dezmon Patmon on a 3rd and 6 play and then was over on the side where Patmon caught a 20-yard pass on the next play, but it was unclear if it was his or the safety's responsibility on what looked like a miscommunication on the coverage.
Okudah was targeted once on a 3rd and 10 play and made a nice tackle to force a punt after a 6-yard catch by Patmon.
"It goes back to he needs reps," Campbell said of playing Okudah a few series Saturday. "He needs to play. No different than Will. Will needs to play a little bit outside at corner because he hasn't done a lot of it."
Campbell said Okudah had a good day on Thursday in the joint practice with the Colts and thinks he's trending in the right direction building on that performance with another good one Saturday.
THIRD TIGHT END
Through the first three weeks of training camp and two preseason games it appears T.J. Hockenson and Brock Wright are pretty entrenched as the No. 1 and No. 2 tight ends. What will be interesting to watch over the next week and the final preseason game in Pittsburgh next Saturday is who emerges as the No. 3 guy?
Shane Zylstra, rookie fifth-round pick James Mitchell, Devin Funchess and undrafted rookie Derrick Deese Jr. are all vying for the job.
Among that group, Zylstra had the most production against the Colts.
He had a couple nice blocks on Detroit's second series to spring running back Craig Reynolds for back-to-back explosive runs of 10-plus yards, and he caught five passes for 34 yards.
Mitchell, who was playing in his first game after rehabbing a college knee injury, caught two passes for nine yards.
That will be an interesting battle to watch over the next week.
- The Lions sat 32 players Saturday, mostly starters, but there were a few injured players among that group as well.
- Campbell said it was 'hard to ignore' the performance of wide receiver Maurice Alexander, who averaged 38.0 yards per kickoff on four attempts against the Colts Saturday with a long of 61. He's got one more week to throw his hat into the ring for the kick return job. Alexander also caught three passes for 18 yards.