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NOTEBOOK: Why final preseason game is still important

Don't tell some of the Detroit Lions players who are fighting for roster spots, that the final preseason game doesn't matter.

Last year, running back Tion Green's 74-yard touchdown reception and 63 yards on the ground in the final preseason game in Buffalo helped earned him a spot on the initial 53-man roster out of camp.

A couple years ago, a three-sack performance by defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr. in the final preseason game in 2016 earned him a spot on Detroit's roster.

A name that came to mind when head coach Matt Patricia was asked Monday about players earning a job for their performance in the last preseason game was former Patriots defensive tackle Dan Klecko. Klecko forced a fumble that was returned 93 yards for a touchdown, and recorded three tackles in the final preseason game for the Patriots back in 2003.

Klecko made the team out of camp, and hung on with the Patriots long enough to win a couple Super Bowls there and also one with the Colts during a six-year career.

"I think these are great opportunities," Patricia said of the final preseason game. "Every single day of practice is a great opportunity and every opportunity to get in a game and show us that you can do it when the lights come on is obviously critically important.

"So, there's probably been numerous examples through the course of the years. That (Klecko) was the first thing that popped in my head."

Who could emerge Thursday as this year's Green, Hyder or Klecko?

90 vs. 75

This will be just the second year since the NFL changed the rules as it pertains to preseason roster cuts. Instead of having to trim rosters from 90 players to 75 ahead of the fourth preseason game, teams are able to keep their 90-man rosters until Saturday.

That gives teams 15 extra players for the final preseason game, which typically doesn't see many of the starters play.

"I'd say we're in a fortunate situation currently with as many bodies as we have practicing right now, and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned," Patricia said. "I think it also can get a little bit tight if you have it the other way where there's just not enough healthy bodies to be able to go out there and execute.

"I'm all about competition, so I love having those guys out there. I love having the competition and seeing everybody compete and being able to evaluate them. We'll have a good couple days of practice here to be able to take a look at some of those guys and give them a chance. I'm glad that we have the extra guys."


Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweeted Monday that Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson doesn't plan to play any starters Thursday night against the Lions. Cabot said that opens the door for No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield to "play a lot."

Veteran Tyrod Taylor is expected to start the season at quarterback for the Browns, with Mayfield, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, playing a backup role to start the season.

When the Browns come to Ford Field for the preseason finale Thursday night, Mayfield could see some significant playing time, according to Cabot.

Mayfield has impressed so far this preseason. He's completed 26-of-45 passes (57.8 percent) with two touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 89.4. He's also added 32 yards rushing.

View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Aug. 27, 2018.


The Lions got some good news as they returned to the practice field Monday ahead of Thursday's preseason finale vs. Cleveland.

Veteran right guard T.J. Lang was back at practice and in full pads working with the offensive line in the portion of practice open to the media. Lang's been out of practice more than a week with an undisclosed injury he said last week wasn't too serious.

Veteran cornerback DeShawn Shead was also back at practice after he missed the last two preseason games due to injury. Shead is still in the mix at the open cornerback spot opposite Darius Slay.

Wide receiver Jace Billingsley also returned to practice after sitting out a week.

Not participating in Monday's practice were: Center Graham Glasgow, tight end Luke Willson (knee), wide receiver Andy Jones (PUP) and defensive tackle Toby Johnson.

The two newest Lions, linebacker Eli Harold (No. 51) and defensive end Robert Ayers (No. 90), were both suited up and participants in the open portion of practice.

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