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TIM AND MIKE: Preseason Week 3 observations

Playing late: The Lions coaching staff has challenged second-year outside linebacker James Houston to be a more well-rounded player instead of a situational pass rusher. He's had an up and down camp in that regard. Where he continues to excel is when he's placed on the edge and asked to get after the quarterback.

He does that at an elite level, and there are worse things to be especially good at in this league than rushing the passer. Houston curiously played late into the fourth quarter Friday, partly because of Julian Okwara's injury, and Aidan Hutchinson, Charles Harris, Josh Paschal and John Cominsky had the night off. Houston notched 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and a tackle for loss. – Tim Twentyman

Lucky 7s: The Lions took a 20-10 lead late in the first half, and two players drafted in the seventh round the last two seasons made the big plays. Cornerback Chase Lucas, a seventh-round pick out of Arizona State in 2022, intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop a potential scoring drive by Carolina. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater turned that into a TD with a 70-yard pass to wide receiver Antoine Green, a seventh-round pick from North Carolina this year. That gave the Lions a 17-10 lead. – Mike O'Hara

Backup confidence: Lions head coach Dan Campbell said after the game Friday that Bridgewater is going to continue to get better and better the more he's around Ben Johnson's system.

"Man, it was good to see," Campbell said of Bridgewater's 178 passing yards in the first half with a touchdown and 100.2 passer rating. "He was in a good spot. He was in a flow. He had great command of the offense. Time on task under our system and it was good to see. I thought he made some big throws today." – Tim Twentyman

On the run: Craig Reynolds showed some running versatility on the Lions' first scoring drive. He got a first down on a run around the end, then got the Lions first TD on a five-yard blast up the middle to cut Carolina's lead to 10-7. That drive boosted the momentum as the Lions scored 20 straight points to make it 20-10 at halftime. – Mike O'Hara

Mr. reliable: 'Reliable' is how Campbell described Reynolds after he finished the game with 41 yards on 11 carries, including a touchdown and caught the only pass thrown his way for five yards. He was also very good in pass pro and seems to have locked up that third RB job behind David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. – Tim Twentyman

Busy half: Wide receiver Dylan Drummond, an undrafted free agent from Eastern Michigan, was targeted six times in the first half. He had five receptions for 46 yards. No doubt he welcomed the workload. – Mike O'Hara

Breakthrough play: We've seen flashes in camp of what the Lions saw in Green when they drafted him in the seventh round of this year's NFL Draft. It was good to see it under the big lights when he took a Bridgewater pass 70 yards weaving through the Panthers' defense and outrunning them to the end zone.

His size and speed are what intrigued the Lions about his game and he showed it off Friday night. Green had three catches for 97 yards and also returned a kickoff 32 yards. It was a good night for him trying to earn one of the last WR spots. – Tim Twentyman

Tough decisions looming: The Lions have to get to an initial 53 players down from 90 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday. This will be the toughest round of cuts in the Brad Holmes and Campbell era. There are good football players who are going to get cut Tuesday and play significant roles for other teams. It's a good problem to have and shows this roster is in a much better place than it's been in years. – Tim Twentyman

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