It’s finally here! Detroit Lions football is back and there are plenty of new faces to keep an eye on in week one of the preseason against the New England Patriots.
The starters playing time will likely be light, but this is the young players and roster bubbles guys time to shine. Here are five Lions I will be paying close attention to:
1. TE T.J. Hockenson
Everyone knew Hockenson was going to be on this list, so let’s get him out of the way early. Hockenson is automatically mentioned based on being a top-10 pick in this year’s NFL draft. Early reports out of camp have created a hefty buzz around the rookie.
After joint practices this week with the Patriots, even a couple of New England beat writers took note of Hockenson. A common theme was the Patriots could not stop him. Another writer went as far as saying what “could have been” if he was a Patriot. Let’s see if Hockenson can live up to the early hype.
TJ Hockenson looks really, really good in Lions camp. He is making the transition to the NFL look easy.
It's only August, but he made catches against the Patriots all week. pic.twitter.com/76gyckt9El
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) August 7, 2019
2. LB Jahlani Tavai
The Lions second-round pick should see a fair amount of playing time to help him get acclimated to the NFL speed of play. Not only that, Tavai has also been practicing at multiple linebacker spots. It’s usually difficult enough for a rookie to learn one position.
You have to wonder if learning four different LB spots as a rookie may be too much to handle. The sooner he can be comfortable, the better off the defense will be. GM Bob Quinn and the staff love his versatility, hopefully it will be on display tonight.
3. RB Ty Johnson
Johnson was a late-round draft pick and is no guarantee to make the roster. However, his chances greatly increased after the Lions released RB Theo Riddick. The change-of-pace role is wide open and Johnson at least has the physical attributes to be exciting.
Johnson may also see time as a return man with the second unit — his specialty while in college. The speedster will look to put his skills on display and make a name for himself the first chance he gets.
Matt Patricia on Ty Johnson: “The skill set is more than just speed. You can see his quickness, his vision as a runner, as a receiver. He has the ability to get out and catch the ball really well."
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) June 9, 2019
4. QB Tom Savage
Rumors coming out of Lions training camp is that Savage is the best backup quarterback the Lions have had in the last few years. With the reliable Stafford starting, the Lions the lack of QB depth has not really been a issue of late. However, if something were to happen, its never a bad idea to have a backup that can at least give you a chance to win. Is Savage that guy?
5. DT Kevin Strong
Strong has made a strong impression so far in camp as an UDFA. So much so, that a few different Lions writers have said he may make the team even though the Lions are deep along the defensive interior. Only time will tell for the relatively unknown player as I’m sure this may even be the first time a few of you are even hearing his name. Keep an eye out for No. 62 in the middle.
— Detroit News Sports (@detnews_sports) August 4, 2019