Struggling Quarterback, Surging Wideout Top Lions to Watch vs. Colts

Tim Boyle

Getty Tim Boyle throws a pass against the Steelers in the 2021 preseason.

The Detroit Lions will finish off the preseason against the Indianapolis Colts this week, and when they do so, there will be plenty of jobs on the line in the preseason finale.

While many might contend the game is useless, there is going to be plenty of intriguing things to watch play out in terms of several roster battles at multiple positions. This game is the last chance for several players to put positive tape on the field, whether it be for the Lions or another team that may pick them up in a few weeks.

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Which players will be the most vital to watch in the final preseason game? Here’s a look at who will have the brightest spotlight for the final dress rehearsal.

Randy Bullock, Kicker

A week after going 3-3, the Lions didn’t attempt a field goal with Bullock in Week 2 of the preseason, meaning not much was learned about the competition for the team despite that being a significant goal. Zane Gonzalez remains on the roster in spite of not getting a chance to impress at all, and with cuts already underway like Eddy Piñeiro, the Lions should try hard to learn more about if Bullock is the guy or if a new addition is needed. A quick decision is going to have to be made, and it seems at this point as if Bullock will be the starting kicker. The Lions should put him under stress and see if they can get him some 40 or 50 yard attempts in Ford Field, a place Bullock could kick half of his games in 2021. Not much has been learned about the kicker spot in the preseason, and that could spell doom for the Lions once the games start to count.

Jahlani Tavai, Linebacker

The Lions could be expected to get a long look at Tavai in this game, and that may be indicative of where he stands in terms of the roster battle. The Lions will want to see if Tavai can bounce back quickly from a rough game in Pittsburgh. If he cannot, it may seal his fate for the roster. If he can, all bets are off. What the Lions will do with Tavai is sort of a mystery at this point, but it’s clear he could be playing his way off the roster with his preseason struggles. He’d be well-advised to make the best use of any game time he receives for the team in this contest.

Tim Boyle, Quarterback

In the competition between Boyle and David Blough to see who will be Jared Goff’s primary backup, there should be no question that Blough has been the most impressive and most deserving candidate so far based on his preseason work. With that in mind, Boyle has a chance to make a stronger case for himself in this game with a strong finish. Dan Campbell has said the Lions may keep three quarterbacks, but thus far, Boyle hasn’t made a compelling enough case for that in game action. Perhaps that will change this week.

John Penisini, Defensive Line

This preseason, Penisini’s spotlight has been usurped by the likes of Alim McNeill and Bruce Hector. He’s been dinged up a bit like several Lions, but the team probably wants to get him a longer look to see where he’s at. Given the emergence of McNeill and Hector, the Lions might be seeing Penisini, one of their solid rookies from 2020, see some pressure applied. Is he on the roster bubble? Maybe not at this point, but it will be interesting to see how much run he gets and if he can be worked back into the mix for a new defense in 2021 that may or may not fit his abilities.

Tom Kennedy, Wide Receiver

One more big game from Kennedy probably locks up a roster spot for the wideout, and that is true given how impressed the coaching staff seems to be with the hard-working player. Perhaps most interesting will be if Kennedy will bump a veteran or two down in his own position group. Players like Breshad Perriman and Geronimo Allison haven’t set the world on fire in camp or in the preseason while Kennedy has done nearly everything right, so it will be fascinating to see if his play will be enough to dethrone a couple other players many may have seen as roster locks at one point or another.

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