By Will Burchfield
The Lions closed out the preseason last night with a not-so-riveting 31-0 win over the Buffalo Bills. While the game lacked any real entertainment value, it gave the coaching staff a good look at a number of players hovering on the proverbial bubble. The roster needs to be shaved down to 53 players by Saturday at 4 p.m., meaning a number of cuts are forthcoming.
Here are five guys who may have played themselves onto the team in last night’s Backup Bowl.
Relatively unknown before Thursday night’s game, Hyder made quite the name for himself against the Bills (something he’s done before). The 6’2, 270-pound defensive end was a force from the get-go, beating opposing lineman around the edge and up the gut. He finished with three sacks and even dropped back in pass coverage on one play. Hyder may still be on the outside looking in, but he’s nipping at the heels of those in front of him.
If it’s true that Lee is battling with Andre Roberts and Jace Billingsley (spoiler alert!) for the final spot at wide receiver, he chose a great time to have a big game. The undrafted rookie out of Baylor was targeted early and often on Thursday night, ultimately hauling in six catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. He’s a big target who can go up and get it, something that might intrigue the Lions who are rather undersized at wide receiver.
If it’s true that Billingsley is battling with Andre Roberts and Lee for the final spot at wide receiver, he, too, chose a great time to have a big game. The undrafted rookie out of Eastern Oregon was targeted early and often on Thursday night, ultimately hauling in seven catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. But the similarities end there – Billingsley, 5’9, is of the Wes Welker mold, while Lee, 6’2, is more of your traditional receiver. And they’re likely to be dealt different fates by tomorrow at 4.
After a woeful performance last weekend against the Ravens, Rudock bounced back in a big way. He was effective both throwing the ball and running it, finishing with 171 yards in the air and 31 yards on the ground. His best play came in the third quarter when he scrambled his way out of a sack and then dropped a deft pass into the hands of Billingsley for a touchdown, one of three he threw on the evening. Rudock is unlikely to suddenly pass Dan Orlovsky on the depth chart, but he may have convinced the Lions to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man.
Dwayne Washington, RB
A bit of stretch here, only in that Washington isn’t really on the bubble. But he’s too good of a story to ignore, having gone from a long-shot to a big-shot in the span of four weeks. He put an exclamation point on a terrific preseason last night with a 58-yard touchdown on the third play of the game. Washington was the Lions starting running back with both Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick getting the night off and looks entrenched at number three on the depth chart moving forward.
Not bad for a guy who showed up late to OTAs.