Five things to watch in Detroit Lions’ preseason game at Buffalo

Quarterback Jake Rudock should see extensive time

The Lions have tough decisions to make on Saturday to whittle the roster down to 53 men. Many of the roster spots are inked in while a few others could depend on how certain players perform in Thursday night’s preseason game at the Buffalo Bills.

In the final preseason game a year ago, defensive end Kerry Hyder earned a roster spot with three sacks in the 31-0 win over the Bills at Ford Field.

“There are a lot of guys that have made tremendous strides and really play well in that last game that make your team. Kerry Hyder was one them in his year that he came out and did some great things for us, but that fourth game, there’s a number of guys that you can point to,’’ coach Jim Caldwell said this week. “So, I think it’s important that the more guys that we have to look at and still evaluate, the better the competition, and that being the case, it makes it better for the coaches and the staff as well.’’

Unfortunately, Hyder tore his Achilles in the first preseason game this year and is out for the season.

Don’t expect most starters to get playing time.

Here are five things to watch:

1. Quarterback Jake Rudock is expected to start and play most of the game. Rudock had a good game last week against the Patriots (10-13, 113 yards, 1 touchdown) and would like to keep it going. “Every game is a new game, that’s the first thing. I want to get a first down and then another. You get enough of those eventually you’re in the end zone,’’ Rudock said. “It’s about doing that, hopefully finishing in the red zone, you always to come away with points.’’ Rudock isn’t fighting for a job. He is clearly the No. 2 quarterback. Brad Kaaya could see some mop-up time in the second half. The rookie is not even close to battling Rudock for the No. 2 spot.

2. It could be a good game to get another look at running backs not named Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Those two should be on the sidelines covered in bubble wrap. You could see more of Dwayne Washington, Matt Asiata, Tion Green and maybe Zach Zenner. Although wouldn’t be shocked if Zenner doesn’t play much. He’s a lock to make the roster.

3. Last year Caldwell only kept four wide receivers on the 53-man roster. He could still have decisions to make there if he keeps four or five. Again, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are unlikely to see action. Maybe Kenny Golladay too. Without question those three are on the roster. Jace Billingsley, Jared Abbrederis and TJ Jones could get plenty of playing time against the Bills’ defense.

4. Eric Ebron did not play in the first three games due to injury but has practiced this week. He could get in there to knock off a little rust. Still decisions to be made at tight end. Darren Fells is a keeper. Not sure about Cole Wick, rookie Michael Roberts and Khari Lee. Roberts could be a practice squad candidate.

5. The defensive line is still Question Mark City. GM Bob Quinn expects Ziggy Ansah to be ready for Week One, but he’s not expected to suit up on Thursday. Look for more playing time for rookie defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter and tackle Derrick Lott who was signed this week. At end keep an eye on three rookies — Alex Barrett, Pat O’Connor and Jeremiah Valoaga.

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Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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