Detroit Lions go deep at corner in penultimate 53-man projection

The stars are done until the regular season starts and soon the preseason will be over. By this time next week, Detroit’s initial 53-man roster will be set -- and, depending what happens around the league, some changes might happen even after that, too.

We’ll have a final roster projection after the final preseason game against Buffalo on Thursday, but for now here’s a revised 2017 Detroit Lions roster projection (asterisk denotes practice squad).

Quarterback (2)

In: Matthew Stafford, Jake Rudock

Cut: Brad Kaaya*

Change: None.

Why: Brad Kaaya might get a lot of work Thursday. But with injuries plaguing the Lions at other spots, there just is not room for three quarterbacks right now. Kaaya is a likely practice squad candidate, though, as Rudock was last year.

Running back (4)

In: Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington

Cut: Matt Asiata, Tion Green*

Injured reserve: Mike James

Change: None.

Why: Zenner didn’t play Friday after tweaking a muscle in warm-ups. That shouldn’t change his status. Washington seems pretty close to locked in, too. The only way this changes, in my opinion, is if someone is injured between now and this weekend.

Wide receiver (5)

In: Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, TJ Jones, Jace Billingsley

Cut: Jared Abbrederis, Dontez Ford, Michael Rector, Noel Thomas*, Keshawn Martin, Dez Stewart

Change: None.

Why: The Billingsley-Abbrederis battle doesn’t seem quite over yet, but Billingsley’s three catches for 45 yards combined with a 19-yard punt return give him the edge. He also gives the Lions another slot receiver -- although both Tate and TJ Jones could play in there -- and he has been someone the team has been high on for a while. Thomas and/or Ford seem destined for the practice squad.

Tight end (4)

In: Eric Ebron, Darren Fells, Michael Roberts, Cole Wick

Cut: Robert Tonyan*, Khari Lee, Andrew Price

Change: Wick in, Tim Wright cut.

Why: Don’t feel confident about Wick right now, in part because of the chest injury he suffered. But Jim Caldwell said Wick would be fine, and if he is healthy, he offers the option of a more complete tight end. Tonyan could be the surprise here as Detroit always seems to have one out-of-nowhere roster keep.

Offensive tackle (4)

In: Rick Wagner, Greg Robinson, Cornelius Lucas, Cyrus Kouandjio

Cut: Corey Robinson, Nick Becton, Storm Norton*

Injured: Taylor Decker (PUP)

Change: None.

Why: Corey Robinson seems more likely to end up on PUP to start the season, and Lucas offers more versatility than Norton.

Interior offensive line (5)

In: T.J. Lang, Travis Swanson, Graham Glasgow, Joe Dahl, Laken Tomlinson

Cut: Brandon Thomas, Leo Koloamatangi*, Connor Bozick

Change: None.

Why: This seems pretty straightforward, although there’s always a chance the Lions could try to move Tomlinson for a late draft pick if they get an enticing offer. More likely, though, is Detroit sticking with five interior linemen for now.

Defensive end (5)

In: Ezekiel Ansah, Cornelius Washington, Anthony Zettel, Jeremiah Valoaga, Alex Barrett

Suspended: Armonty Bryant

Injured reserve: Kerry Hyder

Cut: Pat O’Connor*, Giorgio Newberry

Change: Valoaga in.

Why: The injury to Jordan Hill (see below) opened up a slot, and Valoaga slips into that. The Lions have a bunch of defensive line questions, but both Valoaga and Barrett have done enough to make the roster. There’s a chance O’Connor, Detroit’s seventh-round pick this year, ends up on the roster, but Detroit seems more likely to have him develop on the practice squad for now.

Defensive tackle (4)

In: Haloti Ngata, A'Shawn Robinson, Akeem Spence, Jeremiah Ledbetter

Suspended: Khyri Thornton

Cut: Ego Ferguson, Caushaud Lyons, Derrick Lott

Injured reserve: Jordan Hill

Change: Hill to injured reserve.

Why: Hill’s season-ending bicep injury opens up a roster spot -- and that goes to Valoaga instead of a fifth defensive tackle. Washington, if need be, could play on the interior. It would not be surprising if the Lions make a move for an end or tackle at some point between now and Friday.

Linebacker (6)

In: Jarrad Davis, Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow, Antwione Williams, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Steve Longa

Cut: Thurston Armbrister, Nick Bellore

Injured: Brandon Copeland

Change: None.

Why: The question here is whether or not the Lions keep Longa or choose to go heavier at another position. The former Rutgers product, though, feels like a player who could be a valuable special-teams piece for Detroit, and that’s enough to keep him on over another special-teams stalwart, Bellore.

Cornerback (7)

In: Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, Teez Tabor, Jamal Agnew, Johnson Bademosi, Quandre Diggs, D.J. Hayden

Cut: Adairius Barnes, Tramain Jacobs, Josh Thornton*

Change: None

Why: This is Detroit’s deepest position -- and a spot where injuries often occur. The things to watch here over the next few days: Might the Lions try to flip a corner for a defensive lineman or draft pick? It would make sense considering the logjam here and issues at other spots. The other thing to watch will be if any of the depth corners are in later than others Thursday night. It could be a late showcase for a trade or a sign someone might be a surprise cut. Agnew and Bademosi would be the two to watch here, but Agnew is a rookie with good speed and possible returner value. Bademosi is one of the better special-teams players in the league.

Safety (4)

In: Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson, Miles Killebrew, Don Carey

Cut: Alex Carter, Rolan Milligan, Charles Washington*

Change: None.

Why: This is one of the tougher decisions to make. Washington has been a core special-teams player this preseason, and as good as Carey is, Washington might add more value as a fourth safety, too. If Detroit chooses to go young here -- possible since Carey hasn’t played all preseason -- it could keep Washington and put Carter, who made the transition from corner to safety, on the practice squad.

Specialists (3)

In: Matt Prater, Sam Martin, Don Muhlbach

Cut: Kasey Redfern

Why: This could be something to watch, as Martin is still on the non-football injury list and Caldwell didn’t rule out keeping two punters to start the year. This seems highly, highly unlikely but could be something to watch. If Martin can’t go, Redfern is the punter.