Lions Bubble Watch: Pair of Young Draft Picks Join Updated List

John Penisini

Getty John Penisini dives for a hit against the Saints during a 2020 game.

The Detroit Lions have been working hard over the last few weeks during training camp to establish momentum, and they have seen several players stepping up and standing out for their work on the field in a big way.

Even though that is the case, the Lions can’t keep everyone, and with more cuts looming, the question of what players are firmly on the bubble is beginning to enter everyone’s mind once again. This year, the Lions have no shortage of players who could be seen as in trouble at this point for roster inclusion for one reason or another.

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Which players have a status up in the air as of right now? Here’s a look at some of the names to remember that could need a strong finish to the preseason in order to stick around by the end of the month.

Jahlani Tavai, Linebacker

So far this offseason, the Lions have talked a good game about what Tavai brings to the mix. It seems he could be in good position to crack the roster. Even such, surprises often come this time of year, like when the Lions have sliced veteran cornerback Quinton Dunbar as well as snapper Don Muhlbach from the roster. Could Tavai be next? At times, it feels like the Lions don’t have a good answer as to what Tavai can do for the new-look defense in spite of their praise of him. It will be something to watch in the next few weeks, and Tavai will be the major young name that could be hanging in the balance in a few week’s time during the cut to 53.

Tim Boyle, Quarterback

Will the Lions keep two quarterbacks? The previous regime did, but with roster needs perhaps showing up elsewhere, it’s no lock that happens again. In terms of direct experience in Detroit, Blough has more of it given he’s been with the team for a few years. Boyle also had a tough game, going 8-15 for just 38 yards against the Buffalo Bills. Now, he’s potentially dinged up after a low hit, causing Detroit to sign Jordan Ta’amu. Boyle has been known for his red-hot preseasons, but his first game this year seemed far from it. Will that matter to the team? If there is a true competition going on even in spite of the team apparently prioritizing Boyle, it might.

Victor Bolden, Wide Receiver

Earlier in camp, Bolden has been singled out for his work and especially on special teams, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is an intense battle brewing at the wideout spot. Kalif Raymond has made the most favorable impression so far, and names like Tom Kennedy might not be far behind. The Lions also have Breshad Perriman who could be favored to make the team. Add in Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyrell Williams and Geronimo Allison and things have gotten pretty crowded all of a sudden. Bolden might have to rely on his special teams acumen to save him, but Raymond could also have him beat there.

Corn Elder, Cornerback

Elder has been a decently productive player in college, but he might be lost in the shuffle as it relates to his potential on the Lions for the future. The team has the makings of a solid cornerback group, and added veteran Nickell Robey-Coleman into the mix to play the slot. That signing seems to fit the team well. Does that leave Elder as a man without much hope? It doesn’t bode well that the Lions cut their other offseason signing in Quinton Dunbar, which could provide a hint that the team likes some of the young players they already have. Elder will have to prove why he is indispensable over the next few weeks, or he could be primed to be the next to go at what could be considered a loaded position.

John Penisini, Defensive Line

Detroit has witnessed the emergence of a potential star rookie in Alim McNeill, and might have another stud pushing for a role in Bruce Hector. With this in mind, it’s worth wondering if Penisini can fit the new defense well enough to stick in a nose role, or if Hector will beat him out at this point given what he has shown. It’s fair to say McNeill is going nowhere, which means Penisini could be in a desperate place as a former sixth-round pick of the old regime. He’s got more of the NFL experience, but the team could like what others bring at the spot a little better.

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