Lions, because of special teams, keep 11 DBs in latest roster projection

Alex Carter, a third-round pick last season, appears to be in the mix for a spot in the Lions' defensive backfield. Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire

The first preseason game is over. The roster is still a ways from being set, but there are more hints now.

So here’s a look at the latest roster projection for the Detroit Lions, which includes some depth changes. Also, the roster will read at 55 players for now due to potential PUP or injured reserve designations.

QUARTERBACKS (3): Matthew Stafford, Dan Orlovsky, Jake Rudock

Change from last prediction: None.

Why: As of now, the Lions stick with three quarterbacks but Rudock’s roster position could depend on depth elsewhere. If he doesn’t end up on the roster, he’ll be a probable practice squad candidate. Stafford and Orlovsky are locks. Rudock looked pretty sharp going against fellow third-teamers in the preseason opener.

RUNNING BACKS (5): Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Stevan Ridley, Michael Burton, Zach Zenner

Cut: Dwayne Washington, George Winn

Change from last prediction: None.

Why: Abdullah, Riddick, and Burton are on the roster. At least one of Ridley and Zenner will make the team and possibly both will due to talent and special-teams capabilities. Washington is an interesting case, but the seventh-round pick needs to show more ball security or continue to have major plays in preseason games to bump someone. Otherwise, he is bound for the practice squad.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)*: Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin, TJ Jones, Jay Lee, Corey Fuller* (Fuller will be on PUP or IR-Designated to return)

Cut: Jeremy Kerley, Andre Caldwell, Andre Roberts, Quinshad Davis, Jace Billingsley, Alex Chisum.

Change from last prediction: Boldin, Lee in; Kerley, Roberts out. Fuller in because of injury.

Why: The signing of Boldin changed things for the makeup of this group. He’s a roster lock and the Lions will have three players who can be in the slot between Boldin, Tate, and Jones. It’s tough to see Kerley on the roster unless he wins the returner job. The final receiver spot could come down to Caldwell, Lee, and Davis. I go with Lee because he offers an intriguing combination of skills and he’s been healthy while Caldwell’s been out. If Lee or Davis are cut, expect them to be on the practice squad.

TIGHT ENDS (3): Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew, Cole Wick

Cut: Matthew Mulligan, Orson Charles, Adam Fuehne, Ben McCord.

Change from last prediction: None.

Why: Pettigrew is still on PUP. If he looks to be close to ready for the start of the season, he’s going to be on the roster. If not, he’ll be on PUP or a IR-designated to return candidate. If that happens, Mulligan would be the replacement there. Charles still has an outside shot.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Taylor Decker, Laken Tomlinson, Travis Swanson, Larry Warford, Riley Reiff, Geoff Schwartz, Michael Ola, Joe Dahl, Graham Glasgow.

Cut: Cornelius Lucas, Luke Marquardt, Corey Robinson, Chase Farris, Gabe Ikard

Change from last prediction: None.

Why: This group feels pretty set unless there’s an injury. Ola should beat out Lucas for the final spot. Schwartz has had a good camp and with Tomlinson’s struggles at times, the Lions need to have a veteran ready to step in. Dahl and Glasgow are both big works-in-progress at this point. At least one of the linemen could end up on the practice squad.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Ezekiel Ansah, Devin Taylor, Wallace Gilberry, Brandon Copeland, Haloti Ngata, A’Shawn Robinson, Tyrunn Walker, Stefan Charles, Khyri Thornton.

Cut: Deonte Gibson, Quanterus Smith, Louis Palmer, Anthony Zettel, Kerry Hyder, Caraun Reid, Gabe Wright.

Change from last prediction: Copeland, Thornton in, replacing Zettel and Reid.

Why: These were the toughest calls because there is legitimate depth here. Charles and Thornton have outplayed Reid and Wright thus far, but any combination of the four would not be surprising at this point. It’s one of the biggest competitions out there. The question at end is if the Lions choose to keep Zettel on the 53-man roster or cut him, hope he passes through waivers, and then ends up on the practice squad. He’s improving, so he could definitely end up on the initial 53-man roster by the time cuts come. Right now it’s close.

LINEBACKERS (6)*: DeAndre Levy, Tahir Whitehead, Josh Bynes, Kyle Van Noy, Antwione Williams, Jon Bostic* (Bostic suffered an injury and could head to one of the injured reserve designations)

Cut: Zaviar Gooden, Khaseem Greene, Chi Chi Ariguzo

Change from last prediction: Bostic to injured reserve. He was trending toward making the team anyway.

Why: It’s pretty clear-cut. If Bostic somehow avoided serious injury, then it becomes a question of where to go at other positions. It could be an area Detroit looks to upgrade, though, based off cuts.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (11): Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, Quandre Diggs, Johnson Bademosi, Darrin Walls, Alex Carter, Glover Quin, Rafael Bush, Tavon Wilson, Miles Killebrew, Don Carey

Cut: Adairius Barnes, Credzon Butler, Keith Lewis, Rashaad Reynolds, Charles Washington, Isaiah Johnson.

Change from last prediction: Carey in, Johnson out.

Why: The Johnson-Carey battle will be one to watch during camp, but Carey offers more on special teams, so he gets the nod. Johnson, if he clears waivers, heads back to the practice squad for now. Walls and Butler could end up being a battle as well, but Walls is ahead now. The question is Carter, last year’s third-round pick. It could come down to Carter, Zettel or Dwayne Washington for one roster spot. For now, I’ll go with Carter, but it is precarious.

SPECIALISTS (3): Matt Prater, Sam Martin, Jimmy Landes

Cut: Devon Bell, Don Muhlbach

Change from last prediction: None.

Why: I’m sticking with Landes for now because of the draft-pick usage. But Muhlbach has been more consistent throughout camp. This could definitely flip by next week.