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O'HARA: What we learned from roster cutdown

Standing pat is not part of Bob Quinn's standard operating procedure.

We should have learned that soon after Quinn was hired and went to work as general manager of the Detroit Lions in January of 2016. But if we didn't, the personnel juggling to cut this year's roster to 53 players should serve as a refresher course.

For example: 11 positions will have new starters for Sunday's regular-season opener against the Cardinals compared to last season's opener against the Colts. The most extreme makeovers are on the offensive line, with four new starters out of five, and at linebacker, where newcomers are in two spots and Tahir Whitehead has been moved from the middle to the weak side.

Other positions with new starters are safety, defensive end and tackle, and the No. 3 receiver on offense.

Head coach Jim Caldwell was philosophical when asked about the turnover at his Monday press conference.

"It's always, I think, pretty drastic change from one year to the next these days in our game,' Caldwell said. "You have to be able to adjust. You've got to be able to teach well. You've got to be able to train. You've got to develop."

With that in mind, here are six things we learned and should remember from this year's roster cuts about Quinn's comments, loyalty, performance, trades and the eternal search for depth:

Listen, remember: Two things Quinn said in his press conference at the end of last season should be taken to heart for present and future reference.

He said it was "eye opening" how the Lions lost their last three regular-season games, plus the playoff loss on the road to Seattle. In other words, making the playoffs with a first-round exit isn't good enough.

And he said players had to get used to seeing players come in during the season for workouts. That goes back to how from Day 1, Quinn has stressed building roster depth. Quinn and his personnel staff have done that.

The bottom line: Caldwell and Matthew Stafford both have said this is the deepest team they've had.

Preseason performance: It counts for rookies and veterans alike competing for roster spots.

Rookie running back Tion Green made the roster with a big performance in the second half of the fourth preseason game against Buffalo.

Linebacker Nick Bellore, a special teams ace in his previous six seasons with the Jets and 49ers, also performed well against the Bills. Bellore played 45 snaps on defense, second most of any Lions defender behind rookie linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin's 50, and had a team-high eight tackles.

QB cut: It was no surprise that the Lions cut rookie quarterback Brad Kaaya. He was claimed by the Panthers, ending any chance that the Lions would have signed him back to the practice squad, as they did with Jake Rudock a year ago.

Rudock was a clear winner over Kaaya in the battle for the backup job.

The recent trend in the NFL is for teams to keep two quarterbacks. It's not just the Patriots way to do that, but they probably represent one of the most extreme examples of it. With the trade of No. 3 quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the Colts, this will be the seventh time in nine seasons that the Patriots have gone into the season with two quarterbacks on the 53-player roster.

Trade winds: Projections that they would blow hotter than ever at cut-down time proved accurate. Expect more to come in future seasons.

The Lions made two deals – sending guard Laken Tomlinson to the 49ers on Thursday and backup cornerback and special teams stud Johnson Bademosi to the Patriots on Friday. The Lions got back undisclosed draft picks for both players.

While it may not seem much, consider that the Lions acquired offensive tackle Greg Robinson from the Rams for a pick. Robinson will be the starter at left tackle until Taylor Decker returns from a shoulder injury.

The value of those picks is to get players like Robinson, or to package them with other picks to move up in the draft order.

It's not exactly a one-for-one replacement, but Bellore fills Bademosi's spot as a productive special teamer with some starting experience (10 games for the 49ers in 2016).

Loyalty: Don't count on it. A lot has been made of draft picks from the previous regime who've been cut, but Quinn also has cut five of his own draft picks.

From 2016: Rudock (sixth round) was cut last year and signed back to the practice squad after clearing waivers. Long snapper Jimmy Landes (sixth round) was cut after minicamp in June this year. Linebacker Antwione Williams (fifth round) was let go this year in the cut to 53.

From 2017: Kaaya (sixth round) and defensive end Pat O'Connor (seventh) were let go in the cut to 53. O'Connor was signed back to the practice squad. Two undrafted rookie defensive ends, Alex Barrett and Jeremiah Valoaga, made the 53-man roster ahead of O'Connor.

Work hours: The only reason Quinn's personnel department works 365 days a year is because it can't work 366 until the next Leap Year. That comes around on June 29, 2020 – perfect timing to get another 24 hours to prepare for free agency and the draft.

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