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TWENTYMAN: Breaking down the 53-man roster

The Lions have pared their roster down to an initial 53.

It's important to note this is an initial 53-man roster because more moves could be on the horizon throughout the holiday weekend as players become available around the league.

The Lions can begin building their 10-man practice squad starting Sunday at 1 p.m.

Here is the breakdown of the initial 53:


Making cut: Matthew Stafford, Matt Cassel

Missing cut: Jake Rudock

Twentyman:Credit Rudock for making this a close battle throughout training camp and the preseason. In the end, Cassel's experience (81 career starts) made the most sense for a team that should be looking to win now. 

Cassel has seen a lot throughout his 106 NFL games, and that will be nice to have in the film and meeting rooms for starter Matthew Stafford during the week.

Rudock seems like a good choice for the practice squad, if he clears waivers.


Making cut: LeGarrette Blount, Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah, Nick Bellore (FB)

Injured reserve: Zach Zenner

Missing cut: Dwayne Washington

Twentyman:Johnson, Blount and Riddick are the top three. By keeping Abdullah, the Lions have terrific depth and experience at the position.

Abdullah was a starter most of his first three years in the league. He's also a terrific insurance policy in the passing game if anything were to happen to Riddick. Abdullah's a very capable receiver, and can step in and still run some of those packages and plays we see with Riddick so much. He can also return kickoffs and punts, if needed.

For the first time in a long time, the Lions have some versatility in their backfield with Blount (thumper), Johnson (three-down back) and Riddick (third-down specialist).

Zenner injured his back in the final preseason game last week and is headed to IR.


Making cut: Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr. , Kenny Golladay, TJ Jones, Brandon Powell, Bradley Marquez

Physically unable to perform list: Andy Jones

Missing cut: Jace Billingsley, Teo Redding, Dontez Ford, Andy Jones, Chris Lacy, Brian Brown

Twentyman:The receiver position, along with maybe the secondary, was one of the deepest and most talented position groups entering camp for the Lions. Detroit returned its top four receivers from last season – Marvin Jones, Tate, Golladay and TJ Jones – and anyone added to the group was going to be a bonus.

That's where Powell and Marquez step in. Powell was consistently good throughout training camp and the preseason, and really forced the Lions' hand here. He deserved to be on the initial roster based off his play the last month.

Marquez had just one catch in the preseason, but he's a three-year vet and obviously showed the Lions something throughout camp.


Making cut: Luke Willson, Michael Roberts, Levine Toilolo, Hakeem Valles

Missing cut: Sean McGrath, Marcus Lucas

Twentyman:There was an opportunity for someone to really step up and take over the reins at the position after the team moved on from Eric Ebron this offseason. That never really happened, which allowed a player like Valles to step up and impress to earn a roster spot.

He is a versatile player at the position.

There are still some question marks with this group that need to figure themselves out as we transition into regular season mode. Do they have someone who can stretch the field like Ebron did?


Making cut: Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Graham Glasgow, T.J. Lang, Rick Wagner, Tyrell Crosby, Joe Dahl, Kenny Wiggins, Brian Mihalik, Leo Koloamatangi

Traded: Corey Robinson (to Carolina for future draft pick)

Missing cut: Wesley Johnson, Dan Skipper, Jamar McGloster, John Montelus

Twentyman:The Lions have decided to keep 10 offensive linemen on the initial 53. Crosby appeared to beat out the veteran Robinson for the swing tackle role, which made Robinson a trade candidate with Carolina having a real need at tackle due to injury.

Mihalik played in 15 games for the Lions last year and started two contests. He and Crosby are the backup tackles behind Decker and Wagner.

Dahl and Wiggins provide the veteran depth along the interior behind Ragnow, Glasgow and Lang.

Koloamatangi was on the practice squad last season, and has shown steady growth in his development on the interior.

On paper, this should be a good unit upfront for the Lions. As always, it will come down to health. The Lions started 11 different combinations upfront last year. That can't happen again this year.


Making cut: Ziggy Ansah, A'Shawn Robinson, Sylvester Williams, Anthony Zettel, Kerry Hyder Jr., Da'Shawn Hand, Ricky Jean Francois

Missing cut: Jeremiah Ledbetter, Alex Barrett, Jeremiah Valoaga, Cam Johnson, Josh Fatu, Toby Johnson, Christian Ringo

Twentyman: Matt Patricia's defenses the last two years in New England kept seven (in 2016) and eight (2017) defensive linemen on their initial 53-man roster. Patricia and the Lions kept seven to start this year, with versatility being the big tag word with this group.

There are a number of players among this group who can play inside and outside, and give the Lions the ability to play multiple fronts.

Can this group consistently get pressure on the quarterback and stop the run? That's the big key here. The Lions struggled in that regard last season.

How will this new scheme get the most out of this group?


Making cut: Jarrad Davis, Devon Kennard, Christian Jones, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Miles Killebrew, Eli Harold, Trevor Bates

Missing cut: Jonathan Freeny, Freddie Bishop, Darnell Sankey, Chad Meredith

Twentyman:This defense also requires versatility and numbers at the linebacker spot. The Lions added size this offseason with Kennard, Jones, Freeney and Harold, but they also have a couple players in Reeves-Maybin and Killebrew who bring some speed and cover skills to the position.  

Killebrew is making the switch from safety to linebacker, and apparently the Lions have liked what they've seen there from Killebrew and want to develop him more.

Bates led the Lions in special teams tackles during the preseason, and knows the scheme well from his time on the Patriots practice squad.


Making cut: Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson, Quandre Diggs, Teez Tabor, Jamal Agnew, Tracy Walker, Charles Washington

Injured reserve: Marcus Cromartie

Missing cut: DeShawn Shead, Mike Ford, Chris Jones, Rolan Milligan, Dexter McDougle, Sterling Moore 

Twentyman:Shead started training camp at the starting cornerback opposite Darius Slay, but was inconsistent there early on and then got hurt and missed time. 

Diggs' ability to play both cornerback and safety gives the Lions options at both corner and safety, though he's mostly been a slot corner in his time in Detroit. Quin, Wilson, Walker, Diggs and Washington give the Lions five safeties on the initial roster. Washington is one of the core special teamers on this roster.


Making cut: Matt Prater, Sam Martin, Don Muhlbach

Missing cut: Ryan Santoso

Twentyman:Nothing to report here other than the Lions have one of the best special teams trios in the league in Prater, Martin and Muhlbach.

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