Throughout preseason there have been certain players to prove themselves and others that have fallen short of expectations. After three preseason games and particularly the one against the Jaguars, there are three players that I’m predicting will be important pieces for the Detroit Lions this season.
1. Ryan Broyles
Ryan Broyles is going to be the third wide receiver for the Lions this year. He might be behind Kevin Ogletree and Kris Durham on the depth chart currently, but down the stretch I believe he will make a significant impact.
In the second preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, Broyles ran a route down the left sideline for a great catch and more importantly, yards after the catch. That’s when I first noticed Broyles stand out from the rest of the receivers.
In the game Friday against the Jaguars, the starting offense played almost the entire first half. Although Matthew Stafford had some problems hitting his targets, none of the receivers seemed consistent in getting separation and making a strong impact.
Broyles entered the game in the second half and proved to be an impressive route runner while setting up the game-winning touchdown after three major catches to move the Lions down the field. The most important trait I’ve seen from Broyles is his consistency, never having dropped a clean pass while having a strong ability to gain yards after the catch.
Tahir Whitehead’s performance Friday brought massive attention from the media, coaches, and fans. Until this point, I didn’t think Whitehead was in the running for a position at starting linebacker.
Whitehead was given the starting position over Ashlee Palmer against the Jaguars and made the most of the opportunity. Whitehead went on to have 3 of the 6 sacks by the Lions while playing the SAM linebacker position.
Whitehead is a third year out of Temple. After seeing the competition for the strong side linebacker open between Palmer and rookie Kyle Van Noy, Whitehead decided his hard work this week and overall talent could earn him the position.
“All this week I just prepared really hard, just to try to take advantage of the opportunity. I just came in, did my job and the goal coming into this was simply be there for my teammates and do the best I can do.” If Whitehead can show consistency in the last preseason game and during the first few games of the regular season, he will have a great opportunity to be the starter throughout the season.
3. George Winn
This isn’t the first time George Winn’s name has come up after a Lions preseason game. However, this is the third time Winn has looked better than Mikel Leshoure. Despite two fumbles from Winn in three games, his performance has been overall more dominant than Leshoure.
My prediction is Winn will be impossible to cut and end up ahead of Leshoure on the depth chart. If the Lions can’t find a way to keep both players, at this point Winn is going to be the running back behind Reggie Bush and Joique Bell.
In this game Winn didn’t compare to his past performances, but he has proven to be trustworthy in short yardage and red zone opportunities with his ability to run through players for extra yardage. In my opinion, this game proved that Winn’s worst performance this preseason is still better than Leshoure’s average performance.
If Winn is able to limit his turnovers, he will have a serious impact for the Lions this season.