The Detroit Lions entered the NFL preseason Friday evening at home against the Cleveland Browns with the usual stars taking center stage. Matthew Stafford saw three series of play and couldn’t quite keep a drive alive, but assured his connection with Calvin Johnson was still lethal, striking for a couple big plays in his 4-7, 51 yard, 1 INT debut. Ndamukong Suh played brilliantly in his short stint on the field, wreaking havoc everywhere he could.
It was the play of the supporting cast that impressed the most though, as rookie CB Bill Bentley made the biggest splash despite being burned early. After nearly coming up with his first NFL pick (and most likely a pick 6) on a great route jump, he made due just one series later getting a take away from rookie Cleveland Brown quarterback Brandon Weeden on another great read. The interception set up a Shaun Hill drive capped off with a Keiland Williams 5 yard TD run. Bentley played with great poise and aggressiveness,showing the home town fans what the Lions secondary has been lacking for years-playmaking ability. Speaking of playmaking ability, 3rd year DE Willie Young had a great 1st quarter, recovering his own forced fumble that stood up under replay. RB’s Kevin Smith and Keiland Williams led the corp of running backs to a surprising 115 total rushing yards in the first half. Rookie OT Riley Reiff also had a fine debut, paving the way for a hefty portion of that total. The Lions led at halftime 14-3.
he second half was your typical sloppy preseason NFL football game, the lone highlight for the Lions being RB Joique Bell who piled up 89 yards on 16 attempts. As for rookie QB Kellen Moore? A dismal 4 for 14 and 40 yards and 1 INT. Yikes! In the end the Browns drove for the winning field goal with under a minute remaining and held off Moore’s comeback attempt to secure a 19-17 win.
Among the Lions who were inactive for the opener were Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and Louis Delmas. Obviously a little tough to judge the defense without some key players, but the Lions held their ground against the lowly Browns 1st string O. As for the Offense, those hoping to catch a glimpse of rookie WR Ryan Broyles and 2nd year RB Mikel Leshoure will have to wait.
A loss is a loss is a loss, except when it comes to the preseason. These games are made to give the starters key reps to get into form, and for coaches to evaluate talent and roster positions. That being said, Bentley and Reiff made the most out of their opportunities, and if we can get the same passionate play out of Willie Young all year, watch out!