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 at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Here is the breakdown of the initial 53:

QUARTERBACK (2)

Making cut: Matthew Stafford, Jake Rudock

Missing cut: Brad Kaaya

Twentyman: Kaaya, a sixth-round draft pick this year, showed steady improvement throughout the preseason, and could be a practice squad candidate if he clears waivers.

Rudock played pretty well over the course of the preseason, and won the backup job over Kaaya. He was accurate, athletic and showed an ability to run Jim Bob Cooter’s offense. The Lions only took two quarterbacks – Stafford and Orlovsky – into the regular season a year ago, and will repeat that formula again in 2017. Stafford hasn’t missed a start since 2010, his second season in the league.

RUNNING BACK (5)

Making cut: Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington, Tion Green

Missing cut: Matt Asiata

Twentyman: There aren’t any real surprises here. The way Green played in the preseason earned him a job as the fifth back and potential early contributor on special teams. Abdullah and Riddick are the top two. Zenner is an established No. 3. Washington earned a job through his play last season and in training camp/preseason this year. Don’t be surprised if Washington gets a shot to return kickoffs to begin the season.  

View photos of the 2017 Detroit Lions opening-week roster.

RECEIVER (5)

Making cut: Marvin Jones Jr., Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, TJ Jones, Jared Abbrederis

Missing cut: Jace Billingsley, Dontez Ford, Michael Rector, Noel Thomas

Twentyman: This one was probably a pretty tough decision for Lions GM Bob Quinn and Co. TJ Jones had a pretty secure lock on the fourth spot based off his usage with the first team in most three-receiver sets throughout all of OTAs and training camp. It was a battle all throughout training camp and preseason between Abbrederis and Billingsley. Abbrederis ended up winning the fifth spot. Billingsley is a shifty, strong slot receiver with return ability, so he’s certainly a candidate for the practice squad.

TIGHT END (3)

Making cut: Eric Ebron, Darren Fells, Michael Roberts

Missing cut: Cole Wick, Khari Lee, Scott Orndoff, Robert Tonyan

Twentyman: It’s been good that Ebron has been back to practice for a week now. Fells and Roberts fill out the roster at the position. Don’t be surprised if Wick is asked to join the practice squad.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Making cut: Rick Wagner, Greg Robinson, Cornelius Lucas, Corey Robinson, Travis Swanson, T.J. Lang, Brandon Thomas, Graham Glasgow, Joe Dahl.

Missing cut: Nick Becton, Leo Koloamatangi, Connor Bozick, Storm Norton

Starting season on PUP: Taylor Decker

Twentyman: The Lions pulled off a trade with the 49ers for Laken Tomlinson on Thursday. That freed up a roster spot for Thomas on the interior. There really aren’t a lot of surprises here. Lucas and Robinson return to prove themselves until Decker comes off PUP Week 7.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

Making cut: Ziggy Ansah, Cornelius Washington, Anthony Zettel, Alex Barrett, Jeremiah Valoaga, Haloti Ngata, A’Shawn Robinson, Akeem Spence, Jeremiah Ledbetter

Missing cut: Pat O’Connor, Ego Ferguson, Caushaud Lyons, Giorgio Newberry, Derrick Lott

Starting season on suspension: Armonty Bryant (4 games), Khyri Thornton (6).

Twentyman: Barrett, Valoaga and O’Connor were battling for one or two spots in the preseason. It turned out to be two spots, and O’Connor is the odd man out. I won’t be surprised if O’Connor gets a chance to make the practice squad. Ansah is finally off PUP, and the expectation is that he’s ready to play Week 1 vs. Arizona. That’s big, because he’s probably the most important player on the Lions' defense heading into the regular season. With him, they are a much better pass-rushing defense.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Making cut: Jarrad Davis, Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Steve Longa, Nick Bellore

Missing cut: Antwione Williams, Thurston Armbrister

Twentyman: Williams is a little bit of a surprise here, but it certainly wasn’t a good sign for him that he was playing in the second half of Thursday’s preseason finale in Buffalo. We’ll see if last year’s fifth-round pick clears waivers and is asked back to the practice squad. Longa earned his spot in the preseason, especially on special teams. Bellore is a terrific special teams player too. Don't discount how important that is to this coaching staff.

SECONDARY (11)

Making cut: Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, Quandre Diggs, DJ Hayden, Teez Tabor, Jamal Agnew, Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson, Miles Killebrew, Don Carey, Charles Washington

Traded: Johnson Bademosi (to Patriots)

Missing cut: Alex Carter, Rolan Milligan, Adairius Barnes, Tramain Jacobs, Josh Thornton

Twentyman: No real surprises here. Agnew has a great shot to win the punt return job. Washington had a very good preseason. Carey is one of the best special teams gunners in the league. The Lions weren’t the second-best special teams units in the NFL last via The Dallas Morning News’ annual rankings for nothing. It’s important to  Caldwell, and some players made this roster because of their expertise there.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Making cut: Kasey Redfern, Don Muhlbach, Matt Prater

Starting season on NFI: Sam Martin

Twentyman: Martin begins the season on the NFI list, which means Redfern gets an extended look for the first six weeks of the season. Redfern has looked good in the preseason, and now gets an opportunity to showcase his skills. Still, missing the second-best punter in the NFL last year in Martin is going to sting a little to begin the year.

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