Just one more game. That’s all that’s left before the 2018 regular season kicks off and the Lions take on the New York Jets in Week 1.
Before that, however, the Lions must play their fourth and final preseason game against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. You may not be overly excited to watch an exhibition in which the starters won’t play much, if at all.
Nonetheless, there are only 20 games a year if you count preseason, and some players are still fighting for a roster spot. So here are four reasons to tune in tomorrow night.
1. Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield
The first overall pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, quarterback Baker Mayfield, is reportedly going to play a lot in this game. If you’ve been watching the Browns, you already know how exciting Baker has been thus far. The Browns are saying veteran Tyrod Taylor will be the starter no matter how well Mayfield plays. However, the rookie can make the competition interesting with another solid preseason performance on Thursday night.
2. Rudock vs. Cassel
Experience or upside? That’s what the Lions must determine when figuring out their backup quarterback situation. Rudock has little game experience, while Cassel has played in over 100 games during 14 seasons in the NFL. Cassel is the odds-on favorite, especially considering his New England ties. He is 36 years old, though, and after Rudock led the team to a comeback victory last week, some feel he’s earned the backup job. Rudock is just 25 and has more potential at this point in his career.
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3. Defensive improvement
The Lions have had some trouble adjusting to Matt Patricia’s defense, most notably its front seven. The team has failed to generate much pressure and opposing quarterbacks have had way too much time to diagnose the defense. Second-year mike linebacker Jarrad Davis needs a bounce-back performance to show he can handle being the quarterback of Patricia’s defense this season and beyond.
4. Wide receiver battle
After Brandon Powell’s big game last week, the receiver competition has gotten interesting. We know the Lions have a nice trio of receivers in Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay, but the final two spots have not been completely solidified. Jace Billingsley, T.J. Jones and undrafted rookie Teo Redding each have made a case to be on the final 53. Look for one of these guys to stand out in their final audition Thursday night.