The end of the preseason is near, with the final games Thursday night for all 32 NFL teams. Roster cuts start shortly thereafter, and then it’s off and running into regular-season mode.
The Lions have had coaches planning for Arizona Week 1 for awhile now, but Lions head coach Matt Patricia said Monday that his focus is strictly on this week. He owes it to the players still fighting to make the roster.
“We have guys out there that are fighting for jobs, guys that are trying to live out their dreams, and things that are really important to them, and you want to make sure that as a coach you’re doing everything possible to allow them to have that opportunity,” Patricia said.
“From a standpoint of being little kids, growing up in the game of football, we understand what the dreams are, and how passionate and important that is. Now being in this situation you want to make sure you’re giving every avenue possible to allow those guys to be able to hopefully fulfill that.”
This is a critical week for backups and depth players. We’ve seen it many times over the years where jobs have been won or lost based on the last week of practice and the last preseason game.
For players on the roster bubble, it’s a big week, but it can also be a stressful week.
“It’s hectic,” safety Charles Washington said. “There’s 90 guys and reality sets in. The reality will set in Saturday. This week is always hectic and you just have to have faith in god and trust what you’ve put on film. The past two years everything has worked out and I haven’t gotten that call.”
Washington went through the cut process as an undrafted rookie in 2016. He was re-signed that year to the practice squad. He’s made the 53-man roster out of camp the last two years. He’s been a core special teams player the last two seasons, but doesn’t have much of a role on defense.
“Every year is hectic with my role being so limited,” he said. “I don’t look forward to that day (Saturday). Every year is a nail bitter.”
Washington considers Thursday’s game huge for him to not only show he can continue to be a playmaker on special teams, but also show coaches he can play some defense if needed in the regular season.
Thursday’s game in Cleveland could also be big for second-year wide receiver Brandon Powell. As an undrafted rookie last year, Powell was a roster bubble player who made the 53-man roster and was even given the opportunity late in the year to contribute on Sundays.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019.
He finds himself once again among a large group of receivers battling for what could end up being just a couple roster spots.
“You can’t control what happens, so now it’s just go out there and play this last game and whatever happens, happens,” Powell said. “From my perspective (of being in this position last year), you might try to go out there and do a little too much. Basically, it’s just going out there and playing ball. It’s nothing different, just another game.
“Just go out there and play football and if they like what they see, they like what they see. If they don’t, they don’t. It is what it is.”
This is an important week for teams around the league as they finalize their 53-man rosters and build the depth of their football teams.