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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Jeff Risdon

6 Lions players on the roster bubble on cutdown day

While they aren’t official until 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the Detroit Lions have already informed several players they will not make the initial 53-man roster. Among those no longer with the team: LB Jarrad Davis, TE Devin Funchess and WR Tom Kennedy.

The bubble burst on those three roster aspirants, who all had at least outside chances to make the Lions regular-season roster. There are still quite a few players anxiously perched on that roster bubble as the cutdown deadline rapidly approaches.

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Here are a few Lions players sitting on the roster bubble as we enter the final hours before the deadline.

RB Justin Jackson

(AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

Jackson signed in Detroit after training camp had already begun but quickly showed some juice as a runner outside the tackles. His 8-carry, 44-yard performance in the final preseason game in Pittsburgh showed what Jackson can bring to the team, and he’s got return specialist experience too.

The bigger question for Jackson’s fate is, how many RBs will the Lions carry?

CB Chase Lucas

(AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

The Lions’ seventh-round rookie from Arizona State had an up-and-down training camp. You’d expect that from a rookie slot corner learning a new defensive system against much bigger/faster/stronger competition.

Lucas’ draft status and his enthusiasm for playing special teams help his case, but his athletic limitations were also plainly exposed this summer. He’s a 25-year-old rookie who can only play inside and really struggled when challenged with speed. He could be saved by CB Jerry Jacobs’ uncertain availability status.

TE Shane Zylstra

(AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Zylstra is pretty secure as the No. 4 TE on the Lions. His bubble rises or bursts based more upon if the team decides that role is more valuable than the last CB or a ninth offensive lineman or a fifth linebacker. In his favor: fullback Jason Cabinda is out until at least Week 5 and Zylstra is the most natural replacement currently in Detroit.

OG Logan Stenberg

As recently as the first preseason game against Atlanta, there was little doubt in Allen Park that Stenberg’s time in Detroit was coming to an end. But in the last two-plus weeks, the third-year guard has reinflated his bubble. He turned in dominant performances in exhibition games in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh and carried that over into the practices in between, too.

He was a fourth-round pick out of Kentucky in 2020 for a reason. It took well over two years to see any sign of that reason, but now it’s finally coming together. Did it click soon enough for Stenberg, or are two-plus seasons of inadequacy (I’m being kind here) too much to overcome with two great weeks?

DT Demetrius Taylor

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Taylor is the undrafted rookie with the best chance of sticking on the 53-man roster. He quickly earned respect and higher reps with his ability to disruptively penetrate and get his hands on passes. Taylor even earned a nickname from head coach Dan Campbell: Sawed-off.

Alas, the fitting moniker is part of why Taylor isn’t a lock to make it. He’s maxed out physically at 6-2 and 295 squatty pounds. Taylor doesn’t anchor against the run and doesn’t have the lateral range to be that kind of run defender, either.

LB Anthony Pittman

Pittman surged well ahead of Jarrad Davis in the battle to be the hybrid SAM LB–a role that primarily rushes the passer in sub-packages in Aaron Glenn’s defense. He’s been a stalwart on special teams for Detroit in his three Lions seasons, often with interludes on the practice squad.

Pittman pretty well established he’s LB5 on the roster. But keeping five LBs is no safe bet, not on a defense where there were more than two LBs on the field for exactly 10 reps in the entire month of August.

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