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Detroit Lions news, articles and opinions

Ameer Abdullah - Detroit Lions RB Photo: MGoBlog via Flickr

Ahh, preseason football. Everyone is 0-0 with an equal chance of winning the Super Bowl. Expectations are at a season high for every fan-base in the league.

But it’s still preseason.

Preseason games are meant to be watched and retained on an even keel. Never too high, never too low. Remember that 4-0 preseason that led to an 0-16 season? Expectations need to be tempered. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn anything from a preseason game.

With that said, here are the players who are going to lead the Lions to the Super Bowl this season.

The Obvious – #21 Ameer Abdullah, RB

Abdullah was selected by Detroit in the second round this offseason and he wasted little time showing why, rushing for a team-best 67 yards on 7 carries. The bulk of his yardage came on a 49 yard scamper against the Jets #1 defense. Abdullah took the hand-off to the outside and quickly cut back to midfield where he was run down by Derrelle Revis.

Splitting reps with Theo Riddick, Abdullah’s explosiveness and quick feet were on display for most of the evening, showing excellent vision and cutting ability. You know you’re off to good start when the opposing coach mentions you in the same breath as Barry Sanders.

“He’s about as quick as Barry Sanders”, Jets coach Todd Bowles said after the game. “I’m not saying he is Barry, but he’s got that kind of quickness.”

With Joique Bell out, Abdullah has already shown that he deserves to see the bulk of the carries and surpass Riddick on the depth chart. That is not a knock on Riddick, as he did well running for 35 yards on 8 carries and had a great catch out of the backfield, Abdullah was just that good.

The Underdog – #41 Zach Zenner, RB

The South Dakota State alum has created a buzz around Detroit ever since he was signed as an undrafted free agent this offseason. Zenner rushed for over 6,000 yards and 58 touchdowns in his last three years in college and could potentially be a solid contributer for the Lions.

Battling with George Winn (5 car, 3 yds) for the Lions last RB spot, Zenner rushed for 55 yards on team-leading 13 carries. There were several instances where Zenner lost his footing towards the end of his runs in the open field, which could have been attributed to nerves. If keeps his feet under him and powers through the tackler, he could have easily added more yards. Still he showed a nice blend of strength and elusiveness.

Zenner will have to show he’s a capable contributor on special teams to surpass Winn on the depth chart and make the Lions this season. So far, he’s off to a good start.

Under the Radar – #2 Kyle Brindza, K

The Plymouth, MI native performed well in front of his home crowd in the Lions preseason opener. Brindza was 2-for-2 in field goals of 49 and 41 yards and was consistently booming kickoffs out of the end zone. Undrafted out of Notre Dame, Brindza showcased his powerful leg and had great poise for a rookie.

Does the rookie have much of a chance of unseating Matt Prater as the Lions kicker this season? Probably not. However, he’s putting out some good tape for other teams to see and could potentially give the Lions a valuable trade piece to offer a team with kicking woes i.e. the Pittsburgh Steelers. At the very least he may warrant consideration for the practice squad and has shown he can kick in the NFL.

On the Bubble – #12 Jeremy Ross, KR

Ross had a down year last year as the primary returner on Detroit’s special teams. That can be forgiven. But what is becoming more apparent is that Ross is just not an NFL wide receiver. He had zero catches on three targets and isn’t able to create any separation against cornerbacks. He was limited to one return for 26 yards, the first of the game and the return job is his to lose.

The Lions currently have a logjam of capable receivers in Lance Moore, Greg Salas, T.J. Jones (5 rec, 95 yds, TD) and Ryan Broyles, all who offer either more stability or more potential in the receiving game than Ross. If anyone is able to show flashes in the return game, it might be wise to use the roster spot on someone who can contribute in multiple facets of the game.