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Matt Shepard

Shep's Take: First Impression of 2014 Detroit Lions

 

We take everything in the NFL Preseason with a grain of salt. 

If the Detroit Lions first team offense moves the ball efficiently down the field and scores touchdowns, naysayers will complain the opposing defense is playing a "vanilla" scheme without showing its hand. 

If the first string offense fails to impress, then those same people raise the red flag with concern. 

Blind supporters would see the offensive efficiency as a reason to believe, but if it failed they might say, "it's only the preseason." So I understand Saturday night's dress rehearsal was unconvincing for most. No one can really judge the Lions in their 13-12 win over the Cleveland Browns. However, that doesn't mean we can't have a first impression:

- Kellen Moore: the third-year QB, who has never been active for a game, is trying to fend off competition from rookie QB James Franklin. At the same time, he's trying to put pressure on Dan Orlovsky for the backup position. I thought he looked comfortable and crisp. He was on target and stood firm in the pocket.  It's the best I've seen him look since he's been here.

Photo/Getty Images

- Jerome Couplin: the free agent safety from William & Mary looked quick and physical. I thought he blended in well and the moment wasn't too big for him. This team needs depth at safety, and Couplin turned some heads with the coaching staff.

- Ryan Broyles: you're not the all-time NCAA leader in catches and second all- time in yards if you can't catch. His hands have never been an issue. It's whether or not he can stay healthy. Broyles could be a valuable threat for this offense because he runs good routes, catches anything close to him and knows what to do with the ball after he gets it. The knees and Achilles have to be worrisome, but he's talented when healthy. Kevin Ogletree is on alert.

- George Winn: he's proven in camp that he's not afraid to hit, rather than be hit, and that's admirable for a running back. He's tough and physical and he's shown some speed on the edge. The position is crowded, and he'd have to beat out Theo Riddick, but Winn has been through camps before with five different teams and understands what it takes to make or not make a team. He was already better than Mikel Leshoure, that's for certain.

I'm not suggesting each of the four I've just mentioned deserve to make the team already, but I think they deserve longer looks against upgraded competition.  I'd like to see Moore, Winn and Couplin against some second units and I'd like to watch Broyles run with the one's a little more.  That might give us a better gauge on whether or not they can contribute to this team, but for now they stood out against their peers.  The question is can they elevate their game against tougher and experienced competition.  That's what the preseason is really for.

[PODCAST] Lions Preseason Impressions

Shep talks about the first preseason game for the Detroit Lions against the Cleveland Browns, Kellen Moore pushing Dan Orlovsky for the backup quarterback spot, Matthew Stafford seeing action for one series and other surprise contributors.

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