The last preseason game is always an opportunity for young players and reserves to get an opportunity to showcase their skills in extended playing time with the starters getting the night off.
When it comes to the Detroit Lions rookies, guard Frank Ragnow and running back Kerryon Johnson, Detroit's top two draft picks this offseason, didn't play Thursday night vs. Cleveland, but all of Detroit's other draft picks did.
How did they fare?
Third-round pick Tracy Walker started at safety and got some extended run. The Lions really like his size and the physical presence he brings to the defense. He recorded three tackles in the game. He'll likely be a key member on special teams and a sub-package player on defense early on.
Versatile defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand only played a couple series before joining the starters as a bystander. He made a tackle in limited action, and is expected to be part of the rotation upfront on defense to begin the year.
Detroit's fifth-round pick, Tyrell Crosby, started the game at left tackle, and played his cleanest game of the preseason. He had a bit of an issue with penalties coming into this one, but he didn't see the yellow flag at his feet at all tonight. Crosby's been competing against veteran Corey Robinson for a swing tackle role to start the season. Robinson left Thursday's game with a foot injury, and didn't return. We'll have to see how serious the injury is, and how it affects that particular competition and maybe any overall roster decisions at tackle over the weekend.
From the undrafted rookie pool, wide receiver Dontez Ford led the Lions Thursday with 49 yards on three catches. Wide receiver Teo Redding made a nice 38-yard contested catch down the left sideline to set up a fourth-quarter touchdown.
View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.
Veteran running back Dwayne Washington probably figured he'd get a decent workload Thursday with LeGarrette Blount, Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah and Nick Bellore all getting the night off, but Washington probably wasn't thinking 20 carries and 13 possessions of work.
That's the workload the third-year running back got after Zach Zenner injured his back on the first series of the game and never returned. That left Washington as the only back.
Washington was a workhorse, finishing with 67 rushing yards and the team's first touchdown, a 1-yard plunge in the fourth quarter. He also caught six of his seven targets for another 43 yards.
"He played extremely hard tonight," head coach Matt Patricia said of Washington. "He played tough. Tried to play physical.
"We threw him out there in I'd say a pretty difficult situation where we're kind of behind and really not on top of the game and trying to control the game from that standpoint. That makes his job harder. I think he did a good job trying to compete."
It was a nice effort in extended action by Washington.
Robinson (foot), Zenner (back), safety Rolan Milligan (chest) and safety Marcus Cromartie (hip) were all injured in the contest and did not return.
"We had a couple guys go down tonight and we know they're being evaluated right now," Patricia said after the game.
"I don't have really any other information than the fact they were out of the game and couldn't come back."
Patricia did confirm that all of the injuries were contact injuries. The non-contact ones are always scary.