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Lions Training Camp Risers and Fallers at Each Position

Here is an update on who has performed well at Detroit Lions training camp.

The Detroit Lions open preseason play this Friday at Ford Field. 

When the team takes the field for its first preseason game, it will be important for a number of players trying to make the team. 

Only 53 roster spots are available in the regular season, meaning the current group of 90 players will be whittled down at the end of the preseason.

There have been moves made in training camp, as some players have helped their stock while others have hurt theirs. Here are the risers and fallers at every position from the first two weeks of practice, leading into the team's preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons. 

Quarterback

Riser: Jared Goff

Goff has looked comfortable and collected in his second training camp with the Lions. After sputtering through the first half of the season last year, he’s taken a firm grasp of the team in year two, and appears to have the offense on the right track.

With new weapons at wide receiver, the Lions’ offense has the potential to be solid in 2022. So far, the starting quarterback has shown a solid rapport with each of his top options. He’s moving in the right direction, heading into the preseason opener.

Fallers: QBs Tim Boyle and David Blough

The Lions have an ongoing battle for the backup spot behind Goff, and neither Boyle or Blough has asserted themself as the top option. Both have had their moments, but they haven’t demonstrated enough consistent command of the team’s offensive scheme.

Last season, both quarterbacks made the team out of training camp. With so much new talent on the roster, there may not be room for both this season. The preseason games are pivotal, as both will likely get plenty of opportunities to show they are worthy.

Running back

Riser: D’Andre Swift

Swift is one of Detroit’s most explosive players on offense. He’s a threat to score each and every time he touches the ball. The problem throughout his first two professional seasons has been durability, as he’s struggled to stay healthy.

The Lions have focused on managing his workload and making sure he’ll be in good shape when the regular season comes around. He’s had a good camp, and is in line to have a big season.

Faller: Godwin Igwebuike

Igwebuike is a solid athlete who can do several things well. However, he’ll have to fight the likes of Jermar Jefferson, Craig Reynolds and Justin Jackson to make the roster. Ball-security issues hindered Igwebuike’s ability to contribute at times last season, though he was helpful in the return game, as well as out of the backfield.

Reynolds has been the third running back in camp to this point, so it’s an uphill battle for the Northwestern product. A good preseason is pivotal, as Igwebuike will likely get plenty of opportunities both on offense and special teams.

Wide receiver

Riser: DJ Chark

The free-agent addition from Jacksonville has been outstanding in camp. Entering the season on a one-year contract, the lanky wideout was billed as a potential top option for quarterback Jared Goff.

He’s been that and then some early on in camp, making outstanding catches that have wowed the crowd. Chark has demonstrated a quick understanding of his new scheme, and appears to be the downfield threat that Detroit hoped it was getting.

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Faller: Trinity Benson

Benson needed to stand out heading into his second season. It’s clear general manager Brad Holmes likes his potential and skill set, but the young receiver did little in the way of contributing last season.

With the Lions’ receivers room having added big pieces, Benson will need to up the ante in the preseason games. There’s a dynamic receiver within him, and we’ve seen flashes of it in camp. However, he must find consistency before it’s too late.

Tight end

Riser: Shane Zylstra

Zylstra is a unique case. He was called upon late last season to contribute when the Lions were decimated at the position by injuries. It was adequate, but the team still likes his versatility as both a pass catcher and a blocker.

Zylstra is also capable of contributing on special teams. Having that skill is key amongst the ongoing position battle. If he’s able to make things happen with limited targets in the preseason, he may very well lock up a roster spot.

Faller: Devin Funchess

Funchess is attempting to resurrect a career that has been on hold since 2019, which was the last time he played in a regular season game. He’s switched from wide receiver back to tight end, which was his natural position in college. But, he hasn’t stood out in a deep position battle.

The Lions have plenty of options for their third tight end spot. A pass catcher by trade, the veteran Funchess will have to show his mettle as a blocker to prove his belonging in a deep tight ends room.

Offensive line

Riser: Penei Sewell

As if the stock could get any higher for the 2021 first-round pick. Sewell has been above the line in his second training camp, demonstrating a necessary understanding of the offense and taking his physicality up a notch.

The Oregon product looks like the anchor of the unit that he was billed to be when drafted. He may get limited run in the preseason in order to remain healthy, but he’s made plenty of big blocks in camp that demonstrate his skills.

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Faller: Logan Stenberg

This season marks an important one for the Kentucky product. Billed as a ruthless, physical guard, Stenberg hasn’t shown the ability to contribute regularly during his first two years in Detroit.

He’s fighting for a spot with Detroit’s second unit, but roster availability is limited. With the starting five set and three returning contributors in Evan Brown, Matt Nelson and Tommy Kraemer, Stenberg’s roster spot could be in jeopardy.

Defensive line

Riser: John Cominsky

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The Lions added Cominsky off waivers prior to minicamp, winning his services because they were first in line on the waiver wire. That positioning made a difference, as reports said multiple teams tried to claim him.

Cominsky has been solid since joining the team. He’s shown a good understanding of defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s new attacking scheme, and looks to be in a favorable position when it comes to making the roster heading into the preseason slate.

Riser: Demetrius Taylor

Taylor was a relatively unknown name heading into the team’s offseason activities. Undrafted out of Appalachian State, the young defensive tackle has been impressive throughout camp, and is making a case to stick with the team.

The former Mountaineer has been a constant presence in the backfield during his practice reps. He’s also earned praise from head coach Dan Campbell during media sessions. Taylor’s rise is one to monitor throughout the Lions’ slate of preseason games.

Faller: Levi Onwuzurike

The injury bug has once again reared its ugly head toward Onwuzurike. For the second straight training camp, the young defender has been forced to miss time with back issues. Because of this, he’s missing out on valuable reps during training camp.

While Alim McNeill, who was drafted alongside Onwuzurike in 2021, has displayed his skills early, Onwuzurike has yet to put it together and remain healthy. The Washington product needs to get healthy and get his reps in order to prepare himself for the regular season.

EDGE

Riser: Austin Bryant

With rookie Aidan Hutchinson earning plenty of the spotlight with his status as a top pick, the Lions have a battle going for roster spots on the edge. Bryant has been solid throughout camp, showing his ability to cause havoc in the backfield.

Bryant had his moments at the end of the regular season last year, finishing with 4.5 sacks. That production was good for the Lions in a pinch, and the team appears to like his motor. He could certainly be a contributor for Detroit in 2022.

Faller: Josh Paschal

Paschal is another player dealing with injuries. The rookie from Kentucky underwent surgery for a sports hernia in the spring, after being drafted in the second round.

Whether the injury is of any concern to his overall career remains to be seen, but Paschal remains on the PUP list for the time being and could miss a portion of the regular season. Like Onwuzurike, the bigger concern is the amount of valuable reps he’s missing out on.

Linebacker

Riser: Malcolm Rodriguez

Rodriguez dipped to the sixth round of the NFL Draft, because of concerns about his size. What wasn’t in question, however, was his physicality and nose for the football. After three weeks of training camp, it is abundantly clear that his ability to diagnose plays has translated.

How his size plays at this level will be seen in the coming weeks, as he’ll be going against other teams in practices and preseason games. However, if his ability to make tackles in the box carries over, the Lions are looking at a potential big-time steal here.

Faller: James Houston

Houston is a bit of a project at the position. He dominated at Jackson State last season, but the team is focused on his development heading into his rookie season.

The rookie could be on the outside-looking-in at the start of the regular season, as the roster crunch will be difficult. However, the Lions may decide it’s worth keeping him rather than losing his potential.

Cornerback

Riser: Jeff Okudah

Perhaps nobody needed a good offseason like Okudah did. Heading into training camp, the third-year corner appeared to be close to full health, coming off the Achilles' injury that ended his season after one game. So far, he’s been solid.

The talented defensive back is battling for a starting spot with Will Harris, who is a converted safety. Both have looked productive through the first couple weeks of camp. For Okudah, though, this has been an important step forward in a career that has been dubbed disappointing, due to his status as a former top pick.

Faller: Mike Hughes

Expectations persist that Hughes will help the secondary in some way heading into 2022. However, he’s had a largely unimpressive camp, and could be in danger, if someone behind him on the depth chart emerges.

The Lions’ secondary has struggled in camp. Hughes can provide a sort of stability if he puts it together, but there are other players waiting in the wings. The preseason is key for the 25-year-old.

Safety

Riser: DeShon Elliott

Elliott has dealt with injury issues throughout his career, but appears to be in full health for his first season in Detroit. This is promising, as the young safety has been good when he’s been on the field.

Elliott is showing a good rapport with his teammate in the back-half, Tracy Walker III. Aaron Glenn’s defense is built around the safety position, so the Lions must have two solid players at the position.

Faller: Ifeatu Melifonwu

This offseason was bound to be a tough one for the Syracuse product, as he’s switching positions while learning a new defensive scheme. The former cornerback will line up at safety now, and must learn to contribute in a new way.

He’s dealt with some injuries over the course of the offseason and hasn’t displayed the consistency one would like out of a consistent contributor. He’s a player to watch in the preseason, as that’s where we’ll truly learn his status on the safety depth chart. 

Kicker

Riser: Austin Seibert 

Head coach Dan Campbell revealed that Seibert is currently in the lead to win the kicker's job. Daily, he has shown a strong leg, and even made a 62-yarder at Saturday's Family Fest at Ford Field. 

Faller: Riley Patterson

Patterson has been more inconsistent during training camp. 

He will have to stand out during preseason games in order to have a chance to make the roster. As of now, Seibert, as the veteran, is the  favorite in the clubhouse.