Notes, Observations and Grades from the Lions vs. Giants

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  1. TE Michael Gaines: I like Gaines and his ability to catch passes was on display. Unfortunately in this offense, there is a lot more than just catching passes. He did not do a good job of holding his blocks, and the team suffered from that. On one play he was downfield on a Calvin Johnson catch that had he done his assignment and thrown a block it could have been a score. He did well as a reciever, but was terrible on blocking. Grade: D
  2. RB Tatum Bell: I am not a huge Bell fan and you could see when he approached the line and the hole wasn't there that he was tentative. That said, he didn't get very many opportunities to do much. On the first drive Calvin made a catch that most people would have focused on, but Kitna was running for his life because Bell had failed to pick up a blitzer. Clearly, he isn't the long term answer. His less than inspiring play when he wasn't the focal point and tentativeness when he was were disappointing. Grade: D
  3. G Frank Davis: I am rooting for this kid. He had a terrible game, but there is promise with his motor and his "want to" as it applies to the game. He is a project, but Lions' fans need to know he isn't a lost cause. He was burned badly with guys that used their speed to get around him and that is a concern. He missed several key blocks, but he is young and adjusting to a new system. That is not an excuse, he played badly, but it is reality. He has to step it up if he hopes to do anything. Grade: F
  4. QB Jon Kitna: Jon played great. He was not given great time and the offensive line was not impressive, but he rolled well and audibled some great calls. He was fluid and demonstrated to all of his haters that last year's miscues were more related to the offensive coordinator (his Holyness the Lord God of all Offense, the Merciful Martz) and less with him. He got the ball away quick (something he hadn't been doing under the old dictator offensive coordinator) and showed a nice command of the offense. Notice haters that he did it against the Giants #1's. On his TD to Roy he was forced out of the pocket with poor protection and was able to make the pass. Grade: A+
  5. CB Brian Kelly: I was most excited to see him and to be honest I was disappointed with the amount of run support he showed. To be fair, who knows as a vet if he was holding back because it was pre-season, but if that was the reason it wasn't a good one. He knows the Tampa 2 and the Lions need him. He was, however, in the position he needed to be when he played and that is why I suspect he "laid off" in a couple of plays to avoid injury. I will give him the benefit of the doubt, but keep an eye on that. Grade: C (assuming he was laying off on some of his run support)
  6. LB Alex Lewis:Alex couldn't have had a better game. The Lions have always loved his speed and his ability to "be around" when plays are made. Can he stay healthy? Can he grasp this very difficult D and play instinctual rather than reactive? His speed was on display and, in fact, on two plays he used it to make plays that he shouldn't have. Lewis showed a lot. Granted it was only a pre-season game, but it still was against guys that will make the defending Super Bowl Champion team and he was a force. Grade: B-
  7. DE Jared Devries: He dropped back in coverage showing us some wrinkes and did well. He is athletic and was relentless in pursuit. His abiltiy to get up field allowed the LB's to make some plays. He has been in this league a while, but he was an exceptional compliment to White. Grade: B
  8. DE DeWayne White: I said last year that he was the biggest NFL free agent and I stand by it. He is a terrific DE and the Giants keyed in on him. They brought guys in motion to try to double team him and he responded. I would pay to watch him play football. He goes 110% on every play and the Lions need to be careful playing him in the pre-season. Grade: B+
  9. WR Roy Williams: Once again Roy is a superb athlete, but he doesn't play every down. You can read him often on whether the play is a run or a pass based upon his initial movement on the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. I like Roy professionally and personally, but I know he wants to be elite and be considered as such. If he wants that, he can't drop passes like the one he did over the middle. It wasn't Kitna's best pass. It was behind him, but he got two hands on it and he had plenty of real estate in front of him if he caught it. That is a catch the elite make. I know people get angry with the media for riding Roy, but he has the tools to be the best all around WR in the NFL. He says he wants to be and now he has to show it. Grade: B 
  10. CB Leigh Bodden: Bodden is the real deal, but one of the reasons they were willing to part with him in Cleveland was his tendency to go after a big play rather than just take care of business. He laid a monster hit on a Giant receiver, but he didn't make the tackle. In this offense the CB's have to make the tackles. I said that I liked him when we got him and I do, but he cannot worry about making Sportscenter. He has to worry about making tackles. Grade: C+
  11. DE IAF: IAF had perhaps his best game as a Lion. That isn't saying much, but he looked great. He showed off the speed that the Lions drafted him for, his motor was relentless, and he caused disruption. He got down the field and gave 110% like Marinelli wants. I was very impressed as I know his teammates were and I want to see more, but I am very encouraged. Grade: B-
  12. OT Jon Scott: Scott had a poor game. I understand the injury issues, but he has to step it up and he didn't. He made several mental errors and on more than one occasion he didn't sustain his block and his guy was able to make a tackle. What concerned me was watching him still make those same mistakes against second and third and in one case a fourth string player. If he was making them simply against first string guys I would be encouraged. He didn't and I was not. He has to step up. Very poor performance. Grade: F
  13. CB Dovonte Edwards: He is a fourth year corner and he was atrocious. So bad, in fact, they should simply cut him now. It was one of the worst performances that I have ever seen. Poor footwork, technique, and simply playing out of position and getting flat beat. Cut him now please. Grade: F
  14. LB Buster Davis: Davis was out of position a few times, but he played fast and played with instincts. He had one of the performances that really got my attention. His technique was terrific and Lions' fans should be encouraged by his ability to shed blockers, keep his feet in balance and explode on the ball. Grade: C+
  15. DE Cliff Avril: This young man's speed and ability to shed blocks was on display. He made some rookie mistakes, but there is not doubt he belongs in the NFL and he showed it. A diamond in the rough, but he will get his reps. Grade: C+
  16. QB Dan Orlovsky: Dan was running the two minute offense at the end of the first half and his best play was throwing the ball away rather than getting sacked or throwing an interception. He undertstands how to manage the game and that a sack is much worse than throwing it away and living to play another play. If you watched his footwork as he rolled to his unnatural left it was top notch. I like Orlovsky and I think he is really coming into his own. He ran the offense and has a command of it. He needs game reps, but he looked very good. Grade: B
  17. QB Drew Stanton: Stanton's legs have always served him well. Unfortunately, he likes to take off too fast and not allow some plays to develop. The Lions knew what they were getting and they don't mind his running. In fact, they like that dimension, but he uses them too much and that is a concern. He is a natural leader, but people also have to remember that his entire rookie season was wasted because of the ignorant decision to throw him on IR. Stanton's passes aren't always the prettiest, but he is essentially in his rookie year. Grade: C
  18. LB Anthony Cannon: Cannon plays too much of the time with a reactionary approach rather than an instinctual. He played good. He missed some plays, but was in position and he also showed some great technique that he has also flashed on special teams. I think he has a good chance of contributing and I think he played well. Grade: C
  19. WR John Standeford: This youngster has impressed the coaching staff with his play. I don't know how he makes the team simply from a numbers game if he can't win the KR/PR spot, but he certainly belongs in the NFL. In practice he doesn't always make the catch, but the fans got to see his ability to create seperation and he is certainly building a tape for others to see if he doesn't make it. Grade: C
  20. LB Jordon Dizon: Dizon showed all of the tools as to why Millen picked him. He has great speed, and he posseses terrific technique...usually. He had a play where the Giants' London caught a pass and he had a chance at a big hit and a stop, but he had his body too high on London and he broke the tackle. Dizon was able to have those technique miscues occasionally in the Big 12. This is no longer the Big 12, this is the NFL. Those will dissipate with time and I am not too worried, because you could see why he was selected so high. He was always around the ball and he attacked with a high motor. Even with some miscues, Jordon had a good game. Grade: C+
  21. G Manny Ramirez: With just over ten minutes in the third, Manny missed a crucial block (against a good second stringer) that stopped what would have been a big run. He is only a second year guy, but he did show some flashes. He pulled very well, and I was amazed at the improvement in his movement of his feet. He is also a road grader in size and he has learned to pull with the least amount of movement. He wasn't great, but he also wasn't terrible. Grade: C
  22. LB Leon Joe: I was surprised at his play. He made some big plays and he also didn't make any mental errors. Considering that he is still learning the system, he was one of the guys who I came away thinking about. He was relentless in pursuit and that will go a long ways with this staff. If he has a shot it is with special teams. Keep an eye on this young man. Grade: C+
  23. WR Brandon Middleton: Most people will remember his catch on a tipped ball, but that wasn't what stood out to me. He has very good focus and he blocks very well down field. He also was able to create seperation with the defensive backs and that intrigued me. One huge play he was wide open and simply missed after a terrific move at the line with the defense in bump coverage. For those of you wondering what that is, it is simply when the DB hits you at the line. If he is to make this team it will be with an abiltiy to be a KR/PR and not just a receiver. He has a shot. Grade: B-
  24. RB Kevin Smith He attacked the line even with mediocre at best blocking. His grade is sadly incomplete because he didn't get a chance to show much. If you go by camp however, he is clearly better than Bell. He loves to block and works as hard on plays he doesn't carry the ball as he does when he has it.