NOTEBOOK: Lions-Bills last chance to impress

Posted Aug 26, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Tuesday's practice including the final preseason game, new roster additions and more.

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has said throughout training camp that when it comes to the competitions at certain positions for playing time and roster spots, it’s more of a marathon evaluation than it is a sprint.

Caldwell and Co. are going to look at a player's whole body of work, not just the preseason games, but he did admit to reporters on Tuesday that this week’s preseason finale in Buffalo will be an especially important measuring stick for some of those players.

“Well this game is really important to a lot of our guys, (especially) to those that are in tight battles,” Caldwell said. “This is kind of the point of the roster where these games count heavily for the individuals that are playing in the games.”

The starters aren’t expected to play a whole lot Thursday night, which means players fighting for a spot at the bottom of the roster, along with those entrenched in close position battles, will have an opportunity to get extended playing time in Buffalo to make their final case to coaches.

“A lot of them will get more playing time and some may not have gotten any playing time up to this point and it’s a very, very important one for them, so they try to take advantage of it – give them the best opportunity to do well,” Caldwell said.

“But it is one of those things indeed where we look at their body of work since they’ve been here and make the decision accordingly.”

For a player like tight end turned offensive tackle Michael Williams, this game will be his best opportunity to make a case for that fourth tackle spot. He’s been competing with undrafted rookie Cornelius Lucas there all camp.

“It’s huge for guys like myself and Lucas,” Williams said. “We’ll get a lot of playing time and then let the chips fall where they may.”

Quarterback Kellen Moore is expected to get his most extensive action of the preseason. It’ll be a chance for him to make one final case for the team to keep three quarterbacks on the final 53-man roster.

Even guard Rodney Austin, whose roster spot seems safe, is fighting to prove that he can be a player who can help this team on game day as a reserve. He’s been battling rookie Travis Swanson to see who wins that active game-day role.

“Being a backup I kind of look at this time as my time,” Austin said. “Especially being on the o-line. When we get into the season we don’t rotate a lot of offensive lineman. You usually have five guys and they play the whole game pretty much the whole year.

“Anytime I get to get out there and play and show my skills I get excited. Having that immediate competition (with Swanson) keeps you on your toes and ready. I look for stuff like that to give me an extra spark.”


Golden TateWR Golden Tate (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Receiver Golden Tate played in a run-oriented offense in Seattle last year in a division that featured a number of very good defenses.

Still, Tate managed to catch 64 passes for 898 yards and five touchdowns.

But he expects those numbers to increase across the board in this Lions offense.

“My goals are to just be better than I was last year,” he said. “I think every year I want to be better than I was last year.

“I think my numbers can be way better in this offense. Just naturally how it’s set up. I was in the toughest division with the 49ers, Rams and Cardinals defensively, in a run-heavy offense.

“Now I’m going into a pass-happy offense, where I’m also on the same team with one of the best players in the league (Calvin Johnson), who’s going to draw a lot of attention and a lot of double coverage, which is going to leave me one-on-one with No. 2 or No. 3 cornerbacks. Mentally, I think I should be able to excel and do very well here.”

Tate did say, though, he’d accept a decline in his numbers as long as this team won 11 games and made a deep run into the playoffs.


The waiver claims of tight end Michael Egnew and fullback Emil Igwenagu off waivers Monday became official Tuesday after both players passed their physicals.

In a quick turnaround for Egnew and Igwenagu, both players participated in practice Tuesday afternoon in Allen Park.

Egnew, a third-round pick out of Missouri in 2012, caught seven passes for 69 yards and made five starts for Miami last year.

Igwenagu played in three games with Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent in 2012, but did not appear in a game last year.

“Hopefully you will see him this week,” Caldwell said when asked specifically about Igwenagu. “He’s one of those guys that he’s going to have to be a quick learner in order for us to be able to utilize him. But, we plan on doing just that.

“We’re going to put him under an intensive sort of learning curve here shortly. Hopefully we’ll be able to certainly get him in the game so we can see what he can do.”

Egnew and Igwenagu have a short time to make a good impression. Final cuts are looming with 4 p.m. Saturday being the deadline.

The team released tight end Jacob Maxwell and offensive lineman Bryce Quigley to make room on the 75-man roster for Egnew and Igwenagu.


The Lions were without linebacker Kyle Van Noy, safety Don Carey and defensive end Jason Jones Tuesday, a practice where the temperature topped out at nearly 90 degrees.

Running back Reggie Bush was back on the field after getting a couple days of rest the last two practices.