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O'HARA: Notable developments from Lions' final preseason game

ORCHARD PARK, N. Y. –On a strange Thursday when most fans of Detroit's professional sports teams were focused on Major League Baseball's trade deadline, it was the Detroit Lions who struck first.

Shortly before noon, the Lions traded guard Laken Tomlinson, a 2015 first-round draft pick, to the San Francisco 49ers.

(For the record, a couple hours later the Tigers traded slugging outfielder Justin Upton to the Angels for a prospect and other considerations).   

View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions' 2017 preseason finale against the Buffalo Bills.

For the Lions, trading Tomlinson was the most notable development on a day when they ended the preseason with a tell-nothing – to me – loss to the Buffalo Bills.

There is more to come in the annual personnel shuffle with the mandatory roster cut to 53 players coming Saturday afternoon, but here's what stood out:

The trade: In his third season with the Lions, Tomlinson was competing to be a backup at guard – at best. For whatever reason, and it wasn't lack of effort, Tomlinson never lived up to the expectations former Lions GM Martin Mayhew had when he drafted him 28th overall in 2015.

I didn't specifically see the Tomlinson trade coming, but it wasn't surprising that GM Bob Quinn would make a move like that – even with a recent high draft pick.

Tomlinson never really panned out, and it was a long shot that he was going to win a starting job this season. So trading him for a draft pick made sense.

Depth charge: Thursday night's game didn't show it, and neither did the way the previous game against the Patriots began, when the Lions fell behind, 24-0 in the first half. But this is a much more balanced team than any in Jim Caldwell's first three seasons as head coach.

One of the developments that was apparent throughout the preseason is that there is fierce competition for roster spots.

"We're deeper than we've ever been at a number of different positions," Caldwell said in his postame presser. "We're much, much deeper."

Still looking: However, injuries and suspensions to the front four on defense could have the Lions looking for help leading up to – and after – Saturday's cuts. Other areas still need attention, but the pass rush is at the head of the list.

The one area the Lions desperately needed to improve was the pass rush, and they were headed to better last year's 26 sacks until Kerry Hyder Jr. went out for the season in the first quarter of the first preseason game. 

It was a good showcase for one of the young defensive ends to make a statement. None of them did.

Elsewhere, the final preseason game did not deliver a clear-cut winner on punt returns, or anyone to threaten the No. 4 receiver spot.

The spark: Running back Tion Green fit in with his teammates from the moment he was signed as an undrafted rookie.

He provided the two big highlights on offense Thursday night with a 38-yard run and a 74-yard jaunt for a TD after catch of a short pass from rookie Brad Kaaya.

Green wasn't sure what it did to his chances of making the roster.

"That's a good question," he said. "I don't know what goes on upstairs. I can only show what I show."

He also played well on special teams. With enthusiasm.

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