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TWENTYMAN: Breaking down the initial 53-man roster

Today is the day every general manager and head coach around the NFL hate. It's roster cut-down day, and Detroit has 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 week as players become available around the league.

"This is the toughest time of the year," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said this week. "We're at 80 and we have to get to 53 and that is the worst part of this job – one of the worst parts. It's hard. These guys have given everything they had. They laid it on the line and done everything that you asked and for some of these guys it's not going to work out and it's hard."

Detroit can begin building their 16-man practice squad starting Wednesday.

Here is the breakdown of the initial 53:


On the roster: Jared Goff, David Blough

Missing cut: Tim Boyle

Twentyman: Campbell said he got clarity on the backup quarterback position after Sunday's preseason finale in Pittsburgh. Though he didn't elaborate, it was clear Blough outplayed Boyle, though both struggled in the first half playing with the other starters on offense. Don't be surprised if the Lions pay attention to the quarterbacks available on the waiver wire tomorrow. The Lions have the second highest priority to begin Wednesday's claim period behind only Jacksonville.


On the roster: D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Craig Reynolds, Jermar Jefferson

Missing cut: Godwin Igwebuike, Justin Jackson

Reserve/PUP: Jason Cabinda (FB)

Injured Reserve: Greg Bell

Twentyman: This is a deep and talented group of backs for the Lions, led by Swift, who is poised for a breakout third season. The Lions have managed his reps in camp, and he's been healthy throughout. He's in midseason form to begin the regular season. Williams is the thunder to Swift's lightning, and has become a vocal leader in the locker room. Reynolds showed last season he's capable of handling the load if needed. Igwebuike is a little bit of a surprise waive because of his kickoff-return ability (tied for seventh in average yards per return).


On the roster: DJ Chark, Josh Reynolds, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Kalif Raymond, Quintez Cephus

Missing cut: Tom Kennedy, Trinity Benson (waived injured), Kalil Pimpleton, Maurice Alexander

Reserve/NFI: Jameson Williams

Twentyman: The last couple spots here were pretty hotly contested throughout camp. Despite being hurt, Cephus gets the nod because he's pro proven, and gives that room a little bit of everything with his strength and run-after-catch ability. Kennedy led the team in catches, yards and touchdowns in the preseason, but is limited on special teams. A couple of the players missing the cut here could potentially land on the practice squad.


On the roster: T.J. Hockenson, Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra, James Mitchell

Missing cut: Devin Funchess, Derrick Deese Jr.

Twentyman: The Lions are a little heavy at tight end, but that makes sense considering new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was the tight ends coach before moving to the OC job, and that position will play heavily into his scheme. Also, with Cabinda on reserve/PUP, the fullback role could be filled by a tight end until he can return. Zylstra proved his worth all through camp, and Mitchell is a promising rookie who got a late start to camp because of a college knee injury.


On the roster: Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Penei Sewell, Evan Brown, Matt Nelson, Tommy Kraemer, Logan Stenberg

Missing cut: Obinna Eze, Kevin Jarvis (waived injured), Darrin Paulo, Kendall Lamm, Dan Skipper

Twentyman: No real surprises here. Kraemer did a nice job last year when asked to play. The team likes his future, along with the future of Stenberg. Brown is one of the best backup centers in the NFL. The starting five of Decker, Jackson, Ragnow, Vaitai and Sewell has a chance to be one of the best in football. This is a real strength of this football team heading into the regular season.


On the roster: Aidan Hutchinson, Charles Harris, Alim McNeill, Michael Brockers, Austin Bryant, John Cominsky, Levi Onwuzurike, Isaiah Buggs, Demetrius Taylor

Missing cut: Bruce Hector, Jashon Cornell (waived injured), Eric Banks (waived injured)

Reserve/PUP: Romeo Okwara, Josh Paschal

Twentyman: Lions coaches were pretty excited about the consistency this unit showed throughout the course of camp. Hutchinson and Harris have a chance to be a pretty nice duo coming of the edge, and McNeill will play the nose and the three technique. Cominsky, Buggs and Taylor earned their spots with consistent and disruptive play in camp and the preseason. A couple practice squad spots could be offered up to some of the linemen who didn't make the cut.


On the roster: Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Malcolm Rodriguez, Chris Board, Julian Okwara, Josh Woods

Missing cut: Anthony Pittman, Jarrad Davis, James Houston

Twentyman: Anzalone, Barnes and Rodriguez have consistently been the top three at the stacked linebacker spots all camp. Will it be Barnes or Rodriguez at the WILL to start the year vs. Philadelphia? We shall see. Special teams plays a big part in the decisions at linebacker, which is why the Pittman release is a little surprising. He's a core special teamer. But Board and Woods are also core special teamers that can step in and play some defense if needed. Houston could be a practice squad candidate as a late-round draft pick this year.


On the roster: Amani Oruwariye, Jeff Okudah, Will Harris, Mike Hughes, Chase Lucas, Bobby Price, Tracy Walker, DeShon Elliott, JuJu Hughes, Kerby Joseph, Ifeatu Melifonwu

Missing cut: AJ Parker, Mark Gilbert, Savion Smith, Cedric Boswell, C.J. Moore (waived injured)

Reserve/PUP: Jerry Jacobs

Twentyman: There were probably a few tough decisions among this group, including Parker. He was a starter at nickel last year, but the team brought in the veteran Hughes and drafted Lucas, and have decided to go that route. Parker seems like a practice squad candidate, if he clears waivers. Special teams also likely factored pretty heavily into a couple of these decisions, especially with a player like Price, who is a core special teamer. Okudah has earned a starting role opposite Oruwariye, and he'll be a key figure in the secondary in his third season after two injury-plagued seasons. Elliott has been a nice complement to Walker at safety.


On the roster: Austin Seibert (K), Jack Fox (P), Scott Daly (LS)

Missing cut: Riley Patterson (K)

Twentyman: Seibert had the early edge in the competition at kicker because of his strong leg. While Patterson came on the last couple weeks, Holmes and Campbell went with the big leg. Don't be surprised if Patterson is kicking for someone else this season.

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