Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 8/9/12

Yes, it’s just the first preseason game.  A game where Matthew Stafford will take around eight snaps, Calvin Johnson may not record a catch, and Cliff Avril will unlikely see the field.

But it’s still Lions football, and I’m excited.

Sure, the game is as meaningless as they come, and many of the starters won’t see the field.  The starters who do play will be benched midway through the first quarter, if they even make it that far.  But the players that will take the field are exciting, at least to me.

The positional and roster battles are heating up, starting with the secondary.  The starting corner job opposite Chris Houston has gotten interesting, and some reports now say that it will be rookie Bill Bentley starting instead of veteran Alphonso Smith.

The Lions need Bentley to exceed expectations after taking another hit to their secondary this week.  Safety Louis Delmas had surgery to repair his knee, which had bothered him so far in training camp.  The Lions have released no more information regarding the injury, but this news isn’t good.

Bentley now needs to step up and help a secondary that was lackluster before the injury to Delmas.  With Delmas out, John Wendling will likely get the start at safety for Detroit.

Bentley has to play big for Detroit in Delmas’ absence

Wendling is a veteran who head coach Jim Schwartz has spoken highly of lately.  Hopefully, Wendling can give the Lions a boost, because without Delmas, the secondary is starting to look like Chris Houston.

And that’s it.

The secondary roster battles aside, this game is important for Detroit.  Their incoming draft class has a number of players who can contribute in big ways on special teams.  My favorite pick to be a special teams stud is defensive end Ronnell Lewis.  Dubbed “The Hammer” by his Oklahoma following, Lewis has the size and speed to be devastating on specials teams.

And then there’s the running back carousel.  Who will we see tomorrow?  Obviously not Jahvid Best or Mikel Leshoure, who both are injured.  Kevin Smith will likely see some snaps, along with Keiland Willaims.  After that, we might see a host of other backs including Stefon Logan, Stephfon Greene, and Joique Bell.  Which of these backs will be effective?  Which ones won’t?

Without anyone blocking for them, none will be able to do much of anything, bringing me to the offensive line.  I can’t wait to see our first round pick Riley Reiff take the field wearing Honolulu Blue for the first time.  He currently sits behind veteran Jeff Backus on the depth chart, and may stay there if Backus stays healthy, but that’s a big ‘if’.  Opposite Backus and Reiff, Gosder Cherilus seems motivated as ever, and has talked about ‘getting better every single day’ in camp.  If the line can create some holes to run through in addition to protecting the quarterback, the Lions will have as potent an offense as anyone this season.

Yes, this football game means nothing to the average fan, but this first preseason game means the world to many Lions fighting for a starting job and others trying to make the 55-man roster.

Meaningful or not, it’s still football- and it’s been too long since I had any of that in my life.

 

Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny

 

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