With The Detroit Lions' 2012 preseason now in the book and the regular season right upon us, a few players helped raise their names on the depth chart, while others are moving in the wrong direction.
The preseason for the starters is just to fine tune their skills, and for everyone else it’s a chance to show that you belong and contribute in the NFL, impress the coaches in moving up the depth chart and grabbing some more playing time.
Here are some Detroit players that in my opinion either helped or hurt themselves this preseason by moving up or down the depth chart.
RB Mikel Leshoure: With running back Javid Best starting the year on the PUP list, Mikel Leshoure will have all the opportunity to take over the starting job, of course Mikel will have to wait until Week 3 to hit the field, as Leshoure is serving a two-game suspension.
Mikel had a strong outing in the Lions' last preseason game scoring two touchdowns and showing defenders that he can deliver a punch. I’m a big fan of Leshoure’s running style. I don’t know if I have ever seen a Lions running back hit the hole with so much force. Leshoure could be that diamond in the rough that Detroit coaches and fans are looking for.
RB Joique Bell: Fighting to make the Detroit Lions' roster, Joique Bell is showing the Lions that he can step up and be a contributor to Detroit’s backfield.
With running back Kevin Smith already nursing an ankle injury, the Lions are looking for someone to step up and make that nice 1-2 punch with Mikel Leshoure and in my opinion, Bell could. And he should be that guy.
Bell’s not the quickest running back but I like his field vision and his hands out of the backfield. Bell could be a nice third-down option for Detroit.
CB Bill Bentley: Detroit’s third round pick, rookie Bill Bentley out of Louisiana-Lafayette is looking like he could be a real nice pick for The Lions.
Bentley has shown off some of his play-making ability picking off Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, and nearly had another in the game.
I look for Bentley to start at the No. 2 cornerback position alongside Chris Houston.
OL Riley Reiff: The Detroit Lions' first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Riley Reiff has shown the Lions that he’s ready to start on the offensive line.
I look for Detroit to play Reiff at both the tackle and the guard positions and giving some veteran Lions some much need rest. The Lions didn’t draft Reiff with their first pick in draft with hopes that he could start, Reiff will start and I see him supplanting either Gosder Cherilus or Rob Sims.
RB Kevin Smith: The Detroit Lions re-signed Kevin Smith last season when Javid Best went down with another concussion. Smith gave the Lions a nice spark in the backfield, but all things must come to a end as Smith was sidelined with another injury.
Smith is already banged up this year and in my opinion, is in jeopardy to even stay on the team. We know Detroit is looking for more depth at the running back position and that could mean you could see the departure of the injury-prone Smith
S Amari Spievey: When will Amari Spievey start showing the Detroit Lions that he can start… well how about just play in the NFL. Spievey is far too inconsistent in the defensive backfield in coming up with big plays or just making a tackle.
Spievey came into the NFL as a corner back but couldn’t cover a receiver, so Detroit moved him to the safety position where he still hasn’t excelled at. Spievey looks real good against third-string talent, but when the big boys hit the field, Spievey’s running around like a chicken with his head cut off. Spievey is still young but he needs to start moving forward instead of backwards.
CB Alphonso Smith: With weak depth at the cornerback position for Detroit, Alphonso Smith had all the opportunity to step up for the Lions and creep his way in as a starting cornerback.
Just like Amari Spievey, Smith has shown the Lions no reason to believe that he’s anything better than a No. 3 or 4 cornerback in the NFL. Detroit is still looking to add depth at the cornerback position which will move smith farther down the line or done as a Lion.
DT Corey Williams: The veteran Corey Williams plays in a deep defensive tackle position, where Detroit selected Nick Fairley with their first pick in the 2011 Draft. The Lions also re-signed Sammie Hill in this offseason. Williams only recorded two & a half sacks last season - and now with a hungry, health Fairley ready to make that brick wall in the middle alongside Ndamukong Suh - you should see Williams taking a backseat for Detroit real soon.
The Detroit Lions have something else that moved up this preseason. Quarterback Matthew Stafford & wide receiver Calvin Johnson have put their stamp on it as being the NFLs best and most feared duos in football. I see another big year for Stafford & Megatron.