The regular season is only 2 weeks away and teams are preparing for their final player selections on the 53-man roster.
The Detroit Lions will face the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that went 4-12 last year but have been 1-1 so far this preseason. The Lions are coming off a loss to the Oakland Raiders, matching their preseason record with the Jaguars at one win and one loss.
The game will be played at Ford-Field, 7:30 p.m. ET. Caldwell stated that the starters will be getting more reps as the regular season approaches, meaning this third game will likely see first-team action extended past the first few drives.
The biggest news for Friday’s game will be the addition of Calvin Johnson in the lineup. Jim Caldwell admitted on Monday that they are looking to get Johnson into the game, however the decision has not been finalized. Caldwell stated, “towards the end of the week, if something adjusts where we have to adjust here and there, it could be that with a number of guys, but we plan to get him some work this week.”
The Detroit Lions released cornerback Drayton Florence on Tuesday, limiting the position to nine players fighting for six spots. In week 2, the backup cornerback battle wasn’t dominant by any player at the position. Chris Greenwood, Jonte Green, Mohammed Seisay and Aaron Hester are likely the last few battling it out for a roster spot this season.
Rashean Mathis has proved to be extremely capable of a starting position, but this will be the first time Mathis will face his former Jaguar teammates and starting offense since being released by the team last season.
Nick Fairley made his first public statement about being demoted to second-team defensive end. Weight has become an issue again for the 6-4, 308 pound tackle, but he is confident in himself to find a balance as the season approaches.
“I would say it was (a wake-up call), yeah. Things happen. It happened to me. Just got to go and move forward and just keep pushing forward.” Fairley, despite being second-team currently, will see valuable playing time in Friday’s game as he tries to earn the starting position back from C.J. Mosley.
Ezekiel Ansah was released off the PUP list earlier last week, although he was not active for last weeks game against the Raiders. Heading into Friday’s game, the ability to play Ansah will be a game-time decision. “The medical staff will look at him, even though he’s off of PUP, we’re still going to bring him along according to what he can handle from a physical standpoint,” said Caldwell.
The Jaguars’ quarterback position has had success, with both Chad Henne and Blake Bortles proving capable of leading the team. On defense, the Jaguars acquired defensive ends’ Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, adding immense talent to the defense from last season.
Both teams have a lot to prove if they want any chance of being branded as playoff contenders. The first half action should feature stars and starters while the second half will revert back to certain positional battles being addressed by the coaching staff.