Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  By DAVE DYE  |  Last updated 8/28/13
Eleven days until the Detroit Lions open the regular season at home against the Minnesota Vikings. But first, one final exhibition - Thursday night at Buffalo. Here are five storylines to follow: 1. The top three priorities in this game are pretty simple - Don't get injured, don't get injured, don't get injured. Several starters who have been missing practice time this week - receiver Calvin Johnson, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah and safety Louis Delmas - aren't expected to play. Other top players - such as quarterback Matthew Stafford - likely won't be in for more than a series or two. This is a night for the guys whose names aren't so familiar to get a chance to shine. 2. The Lions - like all NFL teams - must cut as many as 22 players by Saturday at 6 p.m. to get down to the 53-man limit for the regular season. "There are some evaluations that will come right down to the wire," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "You want to get good physical evaluations and you want to see the team execute the schemes that are called." So while the starters will be in and out quickly - if they're in at all - there will be many unproven players out on the field giving everything they have from start to finish. They're flat out fighting for their livelihood. "Those guys are competing not just with guys in our own locker room for spots on our team, but across the NFL," Schwartz said. "This is certainly a time some of those guys will have their most extended play time during the preseason, which will be important for them to show well." 3. Kellen Moore should get plenty of snaps to continue making the case for why the Lions should keep three quarterbacks on the roster again. Moore, an undrafted free agent last year out of Boise State, has added some weight, improved his arm strength and looks much more in control than he did a year ago. He's completed 20-of-30 passes (66.7 percent) for 223 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, in three games. Asked what he considers the difference, Moore said with a chuckle, "Just knowing what I'm doing." "When you're comfortable with things, you throw with more confidence and accuracy," Moore added. 4. One of those under-the-radar players fighting to prove himself down the stretch in preseason is cornerback Chris Greenwood. Greenwood, fifth-round draft pick last year from Albion College, has finally gotten on the field in recent weeks after being injured for most of his rookie season (abdominal surgery) and then much of this training camp (hamstring). He made his first appearance in a preseason game last week against New England and broke up a two-point conversion late in the game. Asked what this final exhibition means to someone in Greenwood's position, Schwartz said, "It's critical for him." 5. Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis spent the last four weeks in the Lions' camp, but now he's going to be on the other side after getting traded Sunday to Buffalo. On the flip side, Chris White, the newest Lion, will be going against the team he played for the last two seasons. "That's going to be pretty crazy," White, a linebacker and strong special-teams player, said of facing the guys he called teammates just three days ago. Prediction: Lions 23, Bills 17.
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