The Detroit Lions are halfway through their preseason schedule and players are starting to emerge either as surprise candidates for roster spots or surprisingly on the roster bubble.
The Lions gained some game evidence against Cleveland and even more against Oakland last Friday as first cuts loom in less than a week.
Here are some players that stood out -- positively or negatively -- on defense against the Raiders:
Defensive end George Johnson: Really good effort. Able to sidestep linemen pretty well. A little bit slow coming off the line and doesn’t have great speed, but his size makes up for that. On his first pressure, Matt Schaub danced away from him, but fight into Stephen Tulloch. He definitely pushed the pocket when he was able to rush in passing situations. Xavier Proctor was credited with a second half sack, but it was Johnson who really made the play -- and probably should have been credited for the sack, too. On the following play, he almost had another big play but was held.
Defensive end Larry Webster: Did well coming off the edge. Didn’t always get to the quarterback, but caused pressure enough to make a difference -- including the pressure that injured Derek Carr. He was in a pretty good position over and over, although it didn’t seem like he used a variety of moves. He basically appeared to rely on his instinct and speed and win the battle.
Defensive tackle Nick Fairley: Watched him intently. Was pushed off the line really easily pretty often. Even on the Ihedigbo interception, where he was dictating his matchup with the offensive lineman, he didn’t create too much pressure and the lineman still had good position on him. Was handled by the offensive linemen in one-on-one coverage on a lot of plays, although he did draw double teams on occasion.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy: Thought he was much more active Friday night. Was good in coverage -- handling a wide receiver -- and also took some good rush lanes against Oakland’s passers. He received a ton of snaps and is really in a split situation right now with Ashlee Palmer.
Linebacker Stephen Tulloch: Smart blitzer. Both times he was sent early, he got pressure -- once with DeAndre Levy and once with Johnson. If the Lions use him more in that role than in prior years, then he should end up having a good season. He seems to have good instincts from the second level to reach the quarterback.
Cornerback Rashean Mathis: Pretty decent night for him. Gave up some passes, but had a really strong pass breakup in the second quarter and also broke up the pass that led to a James Ihedigbo interception. He really looks like the Lions’ top cornerback right now. Mathis had a bad holding call against James Jones, though.
Cornerback Drayton Florence: Yes, he was a late signing, but the only thing of note he has done in his first week-plus with the Lions was get burned deep on a double move by Greg Little. The only reason he still has a shot here -- and it probably isn’t a big one -- is neither Chris Greenwood nor Jonte Green has established themselves either.
Cornerback Jonte Green: He was picked on mercilessly by Derek Carr and Matt McGloin. Even when he didn’t give up the reception, he was beaten on a play -- including on a deep route where Carr overthrew Greg Little. If it was a more accurate pass, Little had a touchdown. Green also picked up a defensive holding call on the final drive. On the final drive, McGloin went at Green at least five times. Green was also in the general area of McGloin’s touchdown pass (although that wasn’t his fault since it appeared to be zone coverage and there were multiple players around).