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O'HARA: What we learned from preseason Week 3

The Detroit Lions are moving on from the 2023 preseason with a general feeling that they have prepared themselves to play games that count and make good on projections that they are favorites to win the NFC North.

What we learned from Friday night's 26-17 road win over the Carolina Panthers is that the Lions have depth at key positions.

That's a problem for GM Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell. They have to make the decisions on who makes the roster and who doesn't.

"This is the hardest time of the year," Campbell said in a postgame interview on 97.1 The Ticket. "This is tough when you lay it all on the line. I'm so proud of the way these guys fought.

"We had some guys in there playing defensive end for us who are normally defensive tackles. They just gave everything they had. That defense, they hung in there."

Among the things we learned with backups playing Friday night included the following:

It was worth the wait to sign Teddy Bridgewater as the backup quarterback; the secondary that was strengthened by the draft and free agency is even stronger with the emergence of some young players; the offensive line – without any starters playing – was improved.

We start with Bridgewater: The offensive line held strong. That allowed the quarterbacks to operate more easily. Except for a 70-yard TD pass to rookie wide receiver Antoine Green with 30 seconds left in the first half, his stats were average – 13 of 22 for 178 yards and the TD.

The TD pass to Green was on the money. That allowed him to catch it in stride and sprint to the end zone.

"We knew it would be just a matter of time until he got his feel," Campbell said.

Secondary: Three plays were converted into 17 points, as follows:

  • Interception in the end zone by cornerback Chase Lucas with 30 seconds left leads to Bridgewater's TD pass to Green.
  • Forced fumble by cornerback Khalil Dorsey is recovered at Panthers' 27. Lions kick a field goal for a 20-10 lead.
  • Interception and return for a TD by cornerback Steven Gilmore late in the fourth quarter to clinch the win.

View photos from the Detroit Lions vs. Carolina Panthers preseason Week 3 game at Bank of America Stadium on Friday, Aug. 25 in Charlotte, NC.

Offensive line: Probably the most improved unit from the previous week to the win over Carolina.

"Protection was outstanding today," Campbell said. "Last week we got hit on a bunch of the games – stunts and games in the passing game.

"It all slowed down this week. We handled it so much better. That's a sign of growth."

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