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TWENTYMAN: Breaking down the 53-man roster

This is a day Lions head coach Matt Patricia dreads every year.

The Lions have to trim down their roster to an initial 53, which means Patricia has to tell 27 players they no longer have a job.

"To be honest with you, I hate it," Patricia said. "It's the worst. You invest in these guys, they invest so much in you, and we're trying to come together as a team and we're building and we're competing, and you love these guys that you're coaching every single day.

"That tough reality of what this weekend is – it's brutal, to be honest with you. In the back of my mind, I just have to understand that I'm going to do what's best for the team. There's always going to be roster movement, there's going to be change, there's going to be turnover, there's going to be opportunities to come in and to compete again and keep working.

"It's a day you walk away from and you're probably just a little bit down from that standpoint because you love the game, you love the guys and you wish you could just have everybody out there."

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 16-man practice squad starting Sunday at 1 p.m.

Here is the breakdown of the initial 53:


On the roster: Matthew Stafford, Chase Daniel

Missing cut: David Blough

Twentyman: The Lions decided to go with two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster to start the season. Blough was good throughout training camp and gave Daniel a run for his money, but the Lions invested in Daniel as a free agent this offseason to be their backup.

The Lions could be hoping Bough clears waivers and can come back on their practice squad. He started five games for them last year, completing 94-of-174 passes (54 percent) for 984 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions.


On the roster: Kerryon Johnson, D’Andre Swift, Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, Jason Cabinda (FB)

Injured reserve: Nick Bawden (FB)

Missing cut: Jonathan Williams, Wes Hills, Jason Huntley

Twentyman: This was likely one of the tougher position groups to cut down for coaches. Scarbrough was a tough runner last year. He gives the backfield a unique skill set.

Huntley is a little bit of a surprise to me. I thought he had a really good training camp, but in the end it was a numbers game, and Swift also does a lot of the things Huntley did well in camp. Huntley is a good candidate for the practice squad.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Lions look to keep a couple backs on the practice squad.


On the roster: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Marvin Hall, Quintez Cephus, Jamal Agnew

Missing cut: Chris Lacy, Tom Kennedy, Victor Bolden

Twentyman: The roster has trended this way pretty much all through camp with the way Hall, Cephus and Agnew have played. Hall is a terrific deep threat, Cephus looks to be a very good possession-type receiver, and Agnew might be the fastest player on the team. Agnew is also expected to return punts and kickoffs.

Golladay, Jones and Amendola were the only trio of receivers last season to catch at least 60 passes and record at least 675 receiving yards. This might be Detroit's deepest and most versatile position group.


On the roster: T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, Hunter Bryant

Missing cut: Matt Sokol, Isaac Nauta

Twentyman: Bryant seemed to make a big catch down the field in just about every practice the first week of training camp. Then he got hurt and missed the rest of camp. It turns out that first week impressed the coaching staff and front office enough to earn him a roster spot. There's still a chance he ends up on IR before the season starts.

Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said he wants to do a better job getting the tight ends more involved in the offense this season. That's good news for Hockenson, who bulked up this offseason and had a terrific training camp, along with James.


On the roster: Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Joe Dahl, Jonah Jackson, Tyrell Crosby, Logan Stenberg, Matt Nelson

Missing cut: Oday Aboushi, Kenny Wiggins, Beau Benzschawel, Dan Skipper (waived injured)

Twentyman: Figuring out the final couple spots between the interior guys was probably the toughest decision here. It's a little surprising Wiggins, Aboushi or Benzschawel didn't make the cut. I thought at least one had a shot, but all three are practice squad candidates.


On the roster: Trey Flowers, Danny Shelton, Nick Williams, Julian Okwara, Da'Shawn Hand, Romeo Okwara, John Penisini

Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP): Austin Bryant

Missing cut: Kevin Strong, Frank Herron, Will Clarke, Olive Sagapolu, Albert Huggins, Kevin Wilkins

Twentyman: Strong was maybe a little bit of a surprise here after he played a reserve role along Detroit's defensive front in 2019. He seems like a good practice squad candidate, if he clears waivers.

Flowers and Hand can play inside and outside, which gives defensive line coach Bo Davis some versatility with matchups. Hand is one of the big wildcards for this group entering the season. If he can stay healthy and replicate the play we saw from him as a rookie, this defensive line has a chance to be much improved. Hand and Williams provide the Lions with much needed pass-rushing ability from the interior of the line.


On the roster: Jamie Collins Sr., Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones, Jahlani Tavai, Reggie Ragland, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Elijah Lee

Missing cut: Anthony Pittman

Twentyman: This is a pretty versatile group with Jones, Collins, Tavai and Ragland playing both inside and outside throughout camp.

Reeves-Maybin is one of the better special teams players in the league, but he also showed he can produce on defense when given an opportunity.

The Lions go heavy at linebacker with the inclusion of Lee, who signed as a free agent this offseason and who had a nice camp.


On the roster: Desmond Trufant, Jeff Okudah, Justin Coleman, Amani Oruwariye, Tracy Walker, Duron Harmon, Will Harris, Darryl Roberts, Tony McRae, Miles Killebrew, C.J. Moore, Mike Ford

Reserve/Suspended: Jayron Kearse (3 games)

Missing cut: Dee Virgin, Jalen Elliott, Bobby Price

Twentyman: All three of those players missing the cut have practice squad potential given that injuries occur more often among defensive backs than almost any other position group.

It will be interesting to see how they use Okudah and Oruwariye to start the season. Will the two split reps? Will one play more than the other? They split first-team reps most of camp.

Killebrew, Moore, McRae and Ford are all core special teamers.


On the roster: Matt Prater, Jack Fox, Don Muhlbach

Missing cut: Arryn Siposs, Steven Wirtel

Twentyman: The punter competition between Fox and Siposs ended up being really close. That was probably a tough call.

Wirtel was consistent in camp, but the Lions ultimately went with the veteran at long snapper. Death. Taxes. Don Muhlbach.

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