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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, Josh Johnson, David Blough

Missing cut: Tom Savage, Luis Perez

Twentyman: Johnson did a nice job Thursday in Cleveland in the preseason finale to win the backup quarterback job over Savage, who struggled in both preseason appearances and missed time in camp with a concussion. Johnson is a 12-year vet with 33 games under his belt.

The Lions traded for Blough Friday after getting an up-close look at him Thursday night in Cleveland. They obviously see something in him they'd like to work with and develop.

The Lions enter the regular season with three quarterbacks on the initial 53.

Perez could be a player the Lions choose to develop on the practice squad.


Making cut: Kerryon Johnson, C.J. Anderson, Ty Johnson, Nick Bawden (FB)

Missing cut: Mark Thompson, James Williams, Justin Stockton

Twentyman: Zach Zenner was a little bit of a surprise release earlier in the week, but it just shows how far the rookie Ty Johnson has come.

Kerryon Johnson is the clear No. 1, but head coach Matt Patricia said this offseason they don't plan to run him ragged. Detroit will rotate backs in. They have a nice mix of skillsets to be able to do that. There's a lot of versatility in Detroit's backfield.

Thompson did pretty well in the preseason as a 240-pound thumper. He could be a practice squad candidate.


Making cut: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Chris Lacy, Travis Fulgham

Missing cut: Andy Jones, Brandon Powell, Tom Kennedy, Jonathan Duhart, TommyLee Lewis, Jordan Lasley

Twentyman: It was a blow to lose veteran Jermaine Kearse to a leg injury in the first preseason game. He was trending to be Detroit's No. 4 receiver. Now that role belongs to either Lacy or Fulgham.

Lacy was probably the most consistent throughout the entirety of training camp of the large group of receivers that were vying for a spot on the roster behind Golladay, Jones and Amendola. Lacy did well as a gunner on special teams, and that likely helped his stock.

Fulgham caught three passes for 80 yards, including a 52-yarder, in the preseason finale in Cleveland. We've seen his ability to make plays down the field throughout camp. That, and being a Lions draft pick in the spring, helped his inclusion into the initial 53.


Making cut: T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, Logan Thomas

Missing cut: Isaac Nauta, Jerome Cunningham, Austin Traylor

Twentyman: This is a completely revamped tight end group led by Hockenson and James. Thomas had a good camp, and these were clearly the top three at the position.

Detroit's tight ends accounted for just 13 percent (43) of the team's catches last season, and the offense missed the big plays down the seam and yards after the catch from the position.

I expect both the usage and production from the position to rise dramatically this season. Hockenson had a strong training camp and preseason, and is expected to be a big part of what the Lions do both in the pass and run game.

Nauta, a late-round draft pick, seems to be a good practice squad candidate if he clears waivers.


Making cut: Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Graham Glasgow, Rick Wagner, Joe Dahl, Kenny Wiggins, Oday Aboushi, Beau Benzschawel, Tyrell Crosby

Missing cut: Andrew Donnal, Leo Koloamatangi, Luke Bowanko, Matt Nelson, Micah St. Andrew, Ryan Pope

Twentyman: The Lions have decided to keep nine offensive linemen on the initial 53, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's some changes here when the Lions get an opportunity to put in some waiver claims from players released around the league.

Ragnow's injury is considered day-to-day. If he's ready to go Sunday in Arizona, then Glasgow and Dahl are likely to start at the two guard spots and the Lions have the top five they ran with for the second half of training camp.

Dahl, who's mostly been a backup his first three seasons in the league, could be getting a chance to start. He's put on a lot of muscle this offseason and put in the work. He seems ready for the opportunity.

Wiggins is an experienced reserve with the ability to play both guard and tackle. He could compete with Crosby early on for the swing tackle role.

Benzschawel started camp off slow, but steadily improved. The undrafted rookie free agent showed some versatility in the preseason finale playing both guard and center. His inclusion on the 53-man roster means the Lions will again keep an undrafted rookie free agent on the initial 53-man roster. GM Bob Quinn has kept at least one every year he's been running the roster.


Making cut: Trey Flowers, Damon Harrison Sr., Mike Daniels, A'Shawn Robinson, Da'Shawn Hand, Romeo Okwara, Kevin Strong, Austin Bryant

Missing cut: Mitchell Loewen, Eric Lee, P.J. Johnson, Ray Smith, Fred Jones, Jonathan Wynn, John Atkins

Twentyman: Not a lot of surprises here. Entering the regular season this appears to be a real strength for the Lions. Detroit is deep and versatile upfront. There shouldn't be much drop off, if any, when they rotate players in and out. There are a number of players among this group who can play inside and outside, and that gives the Lions the ability to play multiple fronts.

Detroit was one of the better defenses against the run the second half of the season last year and they've gotten even stronger upfront with the additions of Flowers and Daniels.

Strong is another undrafted rookie free agent who made the initial roster this year. His father is battling lung cancer and has been a big inspiration for him. His dad is his No. 1 fan, and no-doubt is very proud of his son today. Strong has been consistent throughout camp and earned this inclusion.

Bryant making the 53 and not heading to IR means he could be close to returning from the undisclosed injury he's been dealing with since the first week of camp.

Loewen and Lee were good in training camp and the preseason, but were ultimately casualties of a deep group.


Making cut: Jarrad Davis, Devon Kennard, Christian Jones, Jahlani Tavai, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Miles Killebrew

Missing cut: Steve Longa, Malik Carney, Anthony Pittman, Garret Dooley

Twentyman: Detroit's defense also requires versatility at the linebacker spot, and this group delivers in that regard. Davis and Kennard became the first set of Lions linebackers to each produce 6.0-or-more sacks in a single season last year.

Tavai has a unique skillset with size and speed that allows him to play both inside and outside, and rush the passer. He could play a lot of MIKE initially, depending on how quickly Davis gets back from the leg injury he suffered Week 3 of the preseason against Buffalo.

Reeves-Maybin and Killebrew were very good in the preseason and provide quality depth and sub-package ability.

The Lions will likely keep a linebacker or two on their practice squad, and those guys who were cut are all good candidates for that.


Making cut: Darius Slay, Justin Coleman, Rashaan Melvin, Quandre Diggs, Tracy Walker, Will Harris, Amani Oruwariye, Tavon Wilson, Jamal Agnew, Mike Ford, Dee Virgin, C.J. Moore

Missing cut: Teez Tabor, Andrew Adams, Charles Washington, Johnathan Alston, Jamar Summers, Andre Chachere

Twentyman: Tabor's time in Detroit has come to an end. The former second-round pick could simply never get past his lack of long speed. The leg injury that kept him out of action the last three weeks could have been the final deciding factor for Tabor.

Adams is a little bit of a surprise cut, but it certainly wasn't a good sign for him that he was playing into the fourth quarter of the final preseason game.

Washington is a terrific special teams player, but he didn't have much of a role on defense, and that made him expendable in the end.

Ford played in seven games last year and made four starts. He was good down the stretch last year.

Moore, an undrafted rookie free agent, has been terrific on special teams and can also play a role on defense. Virgin is good on special teams too, and played four games for the Lions last season.


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 better special teams trios in the league in Prater, Martin and Muhlbach.

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