Skip to main content

TWENTYMAN: Breaking down the initial 53-man roster

Today is the day every general manager and head coach around the NFL hates. 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.

"Every year this is the hardest time for me and Brad (Holmes)," Campbell said Monday. "There's nothing worse than watching guys give everything they've got, bust their rear, the blood, the sweat, all of it, the angst, the good, the bad. And that's hard. It's hard to look them in the eye and tell them, 'Hey, this is as far as it goes for now.'

"But there'll be a number of guys too that, 'Yeah, you didn't make it on this maybe the 53, but we want you back here.' And if it doesn't work out somewhere else or someone's not willing to claim you, there's a reason we want you back because we feel like you can help us and I mean, our practice squad players play. But it's tough, I mean there's nothing fun about this."

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

Here is my breakdown of the initial 53:


On the roster: Jared Goff, Teddy Bridgewater

Missing cut: Adrian Martinez

Non-Football Injury: Hendon Hooker

Reserve/Injured: Nate Sudfeld

Twentyman: There was likely some good discussion on keeping two or three quarterbacks on the initial 53 but then Sudfeld suffered a significant knee injury in the third quarter of the preseason finale in Carolina and was placed on IR. Hooker could come off the NFI list and join the 53-man roster at some point during the regular season and serve as the emergency third quarterback when he's ready, a designation that was adopted this offseason that permits each team to field an emergency quarterback on gamedays that will not count against the team's 46-man active roster.

Goff is expected to have a monster season and Bridgewater is an experienced backup who's proven he can step in and win games if needed. Detroit is in a good spot at quarterback.


On the roster: Jahmyr Gibbs, David Montgomery, Jason Cabinda (FB)

Missing cut: Craig Reynolds, Jermar Jefferson (waived injured), Devine Ozigbo, Benny Snell Jr.

Injured/Reserve: Mohamed Ibrahim

Twentyman: Gibbs and Montgomery are 1A and 1B but it's very interesting those two are the only primary ball carriers on the initial 53-man roster at running back. Detroit could still be looking to add a back to this group in the coming days. The Lions value the fullback position. Cabinda can also play some tight end and is a core special teamer. Don't be surprised if the Lions try to get one or two of these backs that missed the cut onto their practice squad.


On the roster: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Marvin Jones Jr., Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Antoine Green

Missing cut: Dylan Drummond, Chase Cota (waived - injury settlement), Maurice Alexander, Trinity Benson, Jason Moore, Avery Davis

Reserve/Suspended: Jameson Williams

Twentyman: This was probably one of the tougher decisions Holmes and Campbell had when getting to 53. In the end, Green, a seventh-round draft pick by Detroit in this year's NFL Draft, beat out Drummond, Cota and others for the fifth and final spot.

Green (6-2, 199) gives the Lions a little more size and speed on the outside. Both Drummond and Cota were consistently good throughout training camp. There's a good chance Drummond is asked back to the practice squad and the Lions will likely keep in touch with Cota after they waived him with an injury settlement.


On the roster: Sam LaPorta, Brock Wright, James Mitchell

Missing cut: Daniel Helm, Darrell Daniels

Reserve/Injured: Shane Zylstra

Twentyman: This one was pretty clear cut ever since Shane Zylstra was lost for the year earlier in camp with a knee injury. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson dialed up 12 touchdowns for his tight ends last season and all three will play a role in the offense. It will be nice to see what Mitchell looks like at 100 percent now with the ACL injury he suffered in college and continued to rehab as a rookie in the rearview heading into his second season.


On the roster: Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Penei Sewell, Graham Glasgow, Matt Nelson, Colby Sorsdal

Missing cut: Kayode Awosika, Germain Ifedi, Bobby Hart, Alex Mollette, Ryan Swoboda, Max Pircher, Brad Cecil, Obinna Eze, Darrin Paulo, Connor Galvin

Twentyman: No real surprises here other than keeping just eight upfront is a little light. For the first time in two years the Lions are heading into Week 1 of the regular season with their top five healthy and ready to play together. That should be fun to watch.

Glasgow and Nelson are the top interior and tackle reserves, respectively, with the rookie Sorsdal still a developmental prospect who's able to play tackle and guard. There could be as many as two or three of those players missing the cut asked back to the practice squad to keep up some depth upfront.

View photos from the Detroit Lions vs. Carolina Panthers preseason Week 3 game at Bank of America Stadium on Friday, Aug. 25 in Charlotte, NC.


On the roster: Aidan Hutchinson, Charles Harris, Alim McNeill, Isaiah Buggs, John Cominsky, Josh Paschal, James Houston, Brodric Martin, Romeo Okwara, Levi Onwuzurike, Benito Jones, Julian Okwara

Missing cut: Christian Covington, Cory Durden, Chris Smith

Twentyman: This is the most talent and depth the Lions have had along their defensive front in the Holmes and Campbell era, and they've decided to keep 12 players on the initial 53. Detroit kept all seven of their top edge rushers and five interior players. That does give them a lot of different packages and combinations they can throw at opposing offenses.


On the roster: Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Jack Campbell, Malcolm Rodriguez, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Anthony Pittman

Missing cut: Trevor Nowaske

Twentyman: Head coach Dan Campbell talked the other day about how he loves the makeup of this room with a terrific mix of experience, youth and versatile skillsets. The way Barnes has come on in his third season has made the competition for starting spots and playing time really interesting. Reeves-Maybin and Pittman are core special teamers who also can provide something on defense too.


On the roster: Cam Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Kerby Joseph, Emmanuel Moseley, Jerry Jacobs, Brian Branch, Will Harris, Tracy Walker, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Steven Gilmore, Khalil Dorsey

Missing cut: Starling Thomas V, Chase Lucas, Colby Richardson, Brady Breeze, Brandon Joseph, Scott Nelson

Twentyman: The fact that Moseley is on the 53-man roster and doesn't start the year on PUP, which would have prevented him from playing in the first four contests, is great news that he's tracking to get back on the practice field sooner rather than later.

It was probably a tough decision to cut Thomas, who had a good camp and was repping with the second team for most of the summer. He's certainly a candidate for the practice squad. Detroit opted to keep Gilmore and Dorsey as promising young corners with the second-year Lucas as the odd man out.

This is easily the most improved position group on the roster from this time last season. I'd expect Lucas and maybe a couple others asked back the practice squad if they clear waivers.


On the roster: Riley Patterson (K), Jack Fox (P), Scott Daly (LS)

Missing cut: Parker Romo (K)

Twentyman: The Lions went with experience and consistency over the big leg but inexperienced Romo. Campbell said after last's week preseason finale that he's liked the camp Patterson had overall.

Related Content