Having already discussed the “winners” of training camp, it’s only appropriate to look at those who can be considered the “losers” of camp for the Detroit Lions.
Training camp ended last Wednesday, and the Lions have a few guys that haven’t lived up to expectations. These guys are the ones who are not capitalizing on their opportunities to prove they can contribute at a consistent level.
Let’s take a look at Detroit’s biggest disappointments up to this point:
1. Eric Ebron
With a desperate need for a cornerback and plenty of prospects on the board with the 10th pick of the draft, the Lions properly filled their biggest team need. Just kidding.
Instead, they chose yet another receiving weapon in tight end Eric Ebron. Standing 6-foot-4 with a solid 32-inch vertical, Ebron is a unique weapon that the Lions were clearly high on.
Coming into Detroit’s already loaded tight end position, Ebron struggled throughout most of training camp; probably because he is in the process of learning four different positions so he can line up all over the field.
That complication has resulted in plenty of mental mistakes, dropped balls and overthinking everything. Learning one position is almost more than a rookie can handle, so the learning process Ebron is going through must be brutal.
He has three catches for 38 yards on six targets in the Lions’ first two preseason games; and you should keep in mind that he almost dropped this wide-open 23-yard catch against the Raiders.
Still, to whom much is given, much is expected, so Ebron cannot be making excuses. He hasn’t performed up to top-10 standards thus far and he will continue to be heavily scrutinized until he does.
2. Nick Fairley
Detroit’s most obvious disappointment so far has been Nick Fairley. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, the defensive tackle has a lot to prove on the field in order to show he’s worth any kind of long-term deal.
Detroit didn’t pick up his fifth-year option earlier this offseason, thinking this would motivate Fairley to have a big season. After reports that he had lost close to 30 pounds this offseason, the move appeared to be working.
However, after coming to minicamp at 295 pounds in June, Fairley has packed on the pounds in recent weeks and currently weighs close to 315.
The result: a demotion to the defensive second team in practice last week and losing a start in the Lions’ second preseason game. C.J. Mosley, who was obviously outplaying Fairley at the time, has been working with the first team.
Fairley insists he feels comfortable playing at his current weight, but it sure hasn’t looked like it on the practice field. He needs to get his act together if he wants to continue his time with the Lions.
3. Mikel Leshoure
After a torn achilles cost him his rookie season, running back Mikel Leshoure found the end zone nine times in 2012. With the signing of Reggie Bush the following offseason, he fell out of favor with the coaching staff and appeared in only three games in 2013.
This year, he was given a fresh start with a new coaching staff. How has he responded? By being outplayed by second-year back George Winn throughout training camp and the early preseason.
Winn has run with more burst, took a one-yard carry for a score in the second preseason game, and has outperformed Leshoure on special teams as well.
When we are talking about the fourth-string running back spot, it’s about what you can bring to the team. Winn looks ready to contribute on special teams, while Leshoure doesn’t bring anything unique to the table.
Considering the team doesn’t have much in the way of cap room, Leshoure’s days in Detroit look numbered. He’s on the books for close to $1.09 million this year, but would only cost the Lions under $300K in dead money if cut.
Cutting Leshoure looks like the right move for the Lions.