50ºF

Detroit Lions Week 1: Breaking down the roster after preseason

CLEVELAND, OHIO - AUGUST 29: Quarterback Josh Johnson #4 of the Detroit Lions runs during the second half of a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Lions 20-16. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - AUGUST 29: Quarterback Josh Johnson #4 of the Detroit Lions runs during the second half of a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Lions 20-16. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Over the weekend, the Lions made their final roster cuts to get to the NFL's mandated 53-man roster.

Looking over the roster, there were some surprises in who did and didn't make the team. As part of the process, some players were cut but added to the Lions' practice squad. That gives those 10 players the opportunity to practice with the team and makes them available should the Lions need them during the season.

Let's look at some notable players who made the roster, some surprising cuts and practice squad members to keep an eye on as the Lions enter Week 1 of the regular season.

Made the roster

Josh Johnson, QB (#8). In a surprise turn of events, Josh Johnson won the backup quarterback job. Brought in Week 2 of the preseason after Tom Savage got hurt, Johnson ended up showing he was a better option to backup Matthew Stafford. Part of that might be his recent experience as a starter for the Washington Redskins last year. 

David Blough, QB (#10). Another surprising move here: the Lions traded for Blough after playing the Browns in the last preseason game. Then, they decided to keep him on the 53-man roster as a third quarterback. After acquiring multiple quarterbacks throughout training camp, the Lions decided to keep the last one they got.

Beau Benzschawel, OL (#63): Benzschawel was signed as an undrafted free agent from Wisconsin following this year's draft. He's a guy Bob Quinn was excited to get and now Benzschawel is on the team as a backup lineman. 

Dee Virgin, CB (#30): Virgin played in four games for the Lions last year. He's making the team ahead of some guys with more experience like Teez Tabor, Charles Washington and Andrew Adams. 

Notable cuts

Teez Tabor, CB. After two years, the Lions decided to move on from former second-round pick Teez Tabor. Tabor showed his potential to be a contributor for the Lions, but he also showed his limitations. Coming into the year, it looked like Tabor could challenge for a starting cornerback position. However, an injury suffered in training camp set him back, and the Lions decided to move on after adding other defensive backs in the offseason. 

Tom Savage, QB. Savage was brought in this past offseason and was the favorite to win the backup QB job all along – until the preseason happened. He suffered a concussion in the first preseason game, missed the next two games and didn't play well in the fourth preseason game, leading the Lions to cut him. He had a lot of experience as a starter in his career but things didn't go his way.

Brandon Powell, WR. Powell was a guy who people thought could break through to have a role as a slot receiver for the Lions. He showed flashes of what he could do over the last two years, including a touchdown return in last year's preseason and a 100-yard receiving game against Green Bay last year. In the end, he couldn't do enough to pass up Travis Fulgham and Chris Lacy.

Zach Zenner, RB. A fan favorite, Zenner was let go a few days before the last cuts were made. It's not easy to let him go as he was a capable back who also was depended on to make plays in special teams coverage.

Practice squad

Isaac Nauta, TE. Drafted in the seventh round of this year's draft, Nauta didn't do enough during the preseason to crack the roster. The Lions do believe he could be a value down the road and added him to the practice squad to start the season. 

Steve Longa, LB. Longa was recently taken off the physically unable to perform list after missing the 2018 season with a torn ACL. He did play for the Lions in 2017, appearing in 13 games. 

Tom Kennedy, WR. Kennedy got attention throughout camp as a former lacrosse player trying to make it in the NFL. Now, the Lions are giving him a chance to be more than a novelty by adding him to the practice squad.