The Detroit Lions have squared away some additions off waivers for their roster, and the second part of the lead into the season is establishing the practice squad.
During the last few seasons in Detroit, the Lions have had some intriguing players on the practice squad come up and do things for the team. This year could figure to be no different, and that is especially true given some of the major changes the roster has seen thus far with a new regime.
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What does the team’s practice squad look like after the first roster was revealed? Wednesday afternoon, the team established their first practice squad, and Thursday morning, the Lions wasted no time with some interesting revisions.
Steven Montez, Quarterback
The Lions have three quarterbacks on the roster, so Montez isn’t likely to see much time, but the dual-thread player has an intriguing background even though he was not able to crack the Washington Football Team’s roster. Montez is out of Colorado, where he put up 9,710 yards and 63 touchdowns in his time with the Buffaloes. Here’s some of Montez’s best work:
After being an undrafted free agent signing of Washington in 2020, Montez spent last season with the Football Team, not yet registering an NFL stat. In spite of that, he can offer the Lions some support while they will be down Tim Boyle for around the first month of the season.
Shane Zylstra, Tight End
Detroit was looking a bit weak in terms of tight end depth, so the Lions went out and signed Zylstra, a former Minnesota Vikings tight end. During his brief time with the Vikings, Zylstra was being converted from a wideout to a tight end. His numbers with Minnesota State were very productive in college, going for 4,297 receiving yards along with 54 touchdowns. Here’s some highlights:
Clearly, Zylstra has a nose for the ball already, but the challenge will be molding him into a complete tight end who can block and do everything else.
Sage Surratt, Wide Receiver
Surratt has shown burst and quickness during the pre-draft process to along with his impressive 6-3 frame. Surratt put up 1,582 yards and 15 scores and was one of the top undrafred free agent wideouts on the market. He didn’t make a huge impression during camp and the preseason, but it’s clear the Lions want to get another look at him in order to see what he might offer for the future. Here’s a glance at some tape:
At the very least, Surratt has the kind of size and body that a team simply cannot teach, which could help him if the Lions ever do need him to play a consistent role for the roster at one of their thinnest spots.
Jared Pinkney, Tight End
The former Vanderbilt product went undrafted in the 2020 draft out of Vanderbilt, but signed with the Atlanta Falcons as well as the Tennessee Titans, where he stayed for part of in 2021. Pinkney was one of the team’s final roster cuts leading into the 2021 season, but had only 1 reception for 10 yards in the preseason with the team. In spite of that, Pinkney put up 1,560 yards and 14 scores at Vanderbilt in college.
Here’s a look at some of his highlights:
Pinkney is a big body and someone who knows how to catch the ball and run with it. He could be given a big chance by the Lions to develop into something.
Jessie Lemonier, Linebacker
One of the more intriguing additions was Lemonier, and outside linebacker and pass rusher who was with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020. Out of Liberty as an undrafted player in 2020, he was on the team’s practice squad and then the roster late in the year. Lemonier is the type of player who has some obvious skills, and it’s likely he was recommended to the staff by his former head coach Anthony Lynn. In college, Lemonier had some eye-popping stats including 135 tackles and a solid 20.5 sacks to go with 3 forced fumbles.
Here’s a look at some tape:
At 6-3 and 240 pounds, Lemonier is someone the Lions staff likely felt was too good to pass up in terms of his potential fit in the new defense.
Parnell Motley, Cornerback
Coming out of Oklahoma, Motley was similarly overlooked in the draft process like a lot of Detroit’s other defensive backs who have subsequently made the roster, but he was no less productive. In a four year career, Motley put up a solid 176 tackles, 6 interceptions, 33 passes defended, 1 touchdown and 6 forced fumbles, showing his nose for the ball. In the NFL, he was picked up by the Buccaneers, 49ers and Broncos for parts of 2020 before finally making his way to Detroit.
Here’s some highlights of Motley at work:
Given how the Lions seem to like underrated players who scrap at the position, Motley could have a bright future with the team if he comes and competes.
Tavante Beckett, Linebacker
Beckett was the best tackler in Conference USA and has some intriguing tape which shows him as a prospect with burst and good pursuit and instincts. The Lions need depth at linebacker, so it’s more than possible that Beckett made the most sense as a practice squad player for 2021. Seeing what he brings to the mix in practice will be huge for the Lions, and the team likely hopes they can bring Beckett along in due time for their roster moving forward.
Rest of Lions’ Practice Squad
The Lions bring back one veteran in Robey-Coleman, and a few mainstays from camp in Reynolds and Hector. Exiting after this roster shuffle were linebacker Rashod Berry, defensive tackle Miles Brown, tight end Alize Mack and running back Dedrick Mills.
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