CHARLOTTE – Friday night was a chance for backups and players on the roster bubble to make one last good impression on Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell with Tuesday's deadline to trim the roister from 90 players to an initial 53 fast approaching.
"I mean to me, they all need to show up," Campbell said this week. "I think a lot of guys need to show up for us and there's a lot of guys that we'll be looking for that we consider depth players, spot starters, guys fighting for jobs, practice squad spots, so I think you're looking for it all. We need everybody to step up."
While Friday was mostly about getting some good evaluation work in, getting a notch in the win column is always fun too, as the Lions finished the preseason with a 2-1 record after defeating Carolina 26-17.
Touchdowns from running back Craig Reynolds (5-yard run) and wide receiver Antoine Green (70-yard catch), plus two Riley Patterson field goals (25, 27) gave Detroit all the points they needed as their defense forced three turnovers (Chase Lucas interception, Brady Breeze fumble recovery and Steven Gilmore pick six) as they cruised to victory.
There were a number of standout performances that could solidify a roster spot or give Holmes and Campbell more to talk about over the next few days.
Some of those included:
- Second-year cornerback Khalil Dorsey got the start at one of the outside cornerback spots and finished with five tackles, including a forced fumble that led to a Lions field goal right before the half. He also showed up on special teams with a 62-yard kickoff return.
- Second-year cornerback Chase Lucas has had a nice camp and really stands out on special teams. He had a special teams tackle, three passes defended and a diving interception late in the first half in Detroit's end zone that thwarted a Carolina scoring chance. The last couple spots at cornerback might be hard to settle on.
- Gilmore, an undrafted rookie, had five tackles, four defended passes and that 11-yard pick-six late in the fourth quarter to seal the win for Detroit.
- Reynolds played the entire first half and had some really nice runs, including a 5-yard touchdown. He had 41 yards on 11 carries. He also caught one pass for five yards. He just might have solidified the third running back spot behind David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs.
- Green, a rookie seventh-round pick is trying to secure one of the final spots on the roster at wide receiver. His 70-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter showed off his speed and playmaking ability. He finished with three catches for 97 yards and also had a 32-yard kickoff return.
- Undrafted rookie wide receiver Dylan Drummond has been a great story throughout camp, and he made a good final impression with some really nice catches to finish with 46 yards on five catches.
Settling in: It's amazing what a week's worth of practice can do.
Veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater started last week's preseason game against Jacksonville after practicing only three times with Detroit. He was just 5-for-11 for 34 yards in that contest and looked rusty.
It was a different story Friday in Carolina with another week of practice in Ben Johnson's offense under his belt. Bridgewater looked much more settled and confident. His timing with his receivers looked much better and he finished completing 13 of his 22 pass attempts for 178 yards with a touchdown, no interceptions and a 100.2 passer rating.
Injury report: Quarterback Nate Sudfeld left the game on his first possession with a left leg injury. He took an awkward fall along the sideline scrambling from pressure on a third-down play and was carted to the locker room from the Lions sideline.
Veteran defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs left the game in the third quarter after making a tackle and did not return. Also leaving the game and not returning was reserve edge rusher Julian Okwara.
Up next: at Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, Sept. 7