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
“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.”
“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.”
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 (
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.
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.