Allen Park –In a competition that’s been back and forth throughout the offseason, the Detroit Lions’ quarterback battle heads into the final week before the roster cuts, still lacking clarity.
“I think it’s neck and neck,” coach Dan Campbell said.
David Blough, who served as the team’s third-string option a year ago, got the start in the team’s second preseason game on Saturday. Playing the entire first half, he led three long scoring streaks, ending his day with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Tom Kennedy as time expired in the second quarter.
Conversely, Blough threw a pass to Kennedy in tight coverage that was intercepted and translated into Colts points. The QB also didn’t take advantage of a lengthy kickoff return into Colts territory, which ended with kicker Austin Seibert missing a 55-yard field goal on the right post.
Blough’s last line at the hearing: 16 for 22, 76 yards, one touchdown, one interception, plus three shoves for 18 more yards.
Boyle, meanwhile, came on to start the second half and completed the win. He led a pair of touchdown passes, including an 18-game, 85-yard streak. But those possessions sandwiched a pair of three-and-outs.
He went 12 of 15 for 99 yards, one touchdown and zero turnovers. And despite the quality stat line, he was more focused on the plays he didn’t make.
“I missed the touchdown pass to Mo Alexander in the back of the end zone,” Boyle said, listing his mistakes. “I missed a few kills. I had a hit once. I was inaccurate on a pitch, which I wanted to get back. So I could have had a better game, to be honest with you. “
Campbell said the coaching staff is still debating who will start the final against Pittsburgh, but is currently leaning towards returning to Boyle.
Last season, the Lions retained all three quarterbacks, but may not be given that luxury this year, having to make tough decisions across the roster. Blough and Boyle have forged a strong bond over the past year, which could make the next week awkward as they potentially vie for just one job. But Boyle doesn’t see it that way.
“He always makes us laugh, always makes us smile, and I think the relationship is way more important than the competition battle,” Boyle said. “But it’s definitely on our minds. He’s in a similar place. He’s not drafted. He’s going into fourth year. It’s a dogfight every year for us. ’til we sign a two or three- Let’s hope that happens, but being an undrafted quarterback in this league is – every year is going to be a dogfight, and we know what that feels like.
“…I love David,” he said. “I love every aspect of David Blough. I’ll tell you 100 times. David is probably one of the five best people I’ve ever met in my life.”
Starters to adapt this week
Boyle (or Blough) could be one of the few reserves to start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Lions plan to play most of their starters in the exhibition final.
“I see the starters play and we’ll see where it goes,” Campbell said. “They have to be prepared for a half, I told them. I know their guys are playing about a half; I’ve spoken to (Steelers) coach (Mike) Tomlin. So it will be really good for us.
Playing starters in the preseason finale will be a change of pace for the Lions under Campbell. Last year, the first the preseason roster was reduced to three games, the Lions rested almost everyone who would start the season opener, with the most notable exception being rookie offensive tackle Penei. Sewell.
“Well, we tried a few things last year,” Campbell said. “I wanted to tinker around a bit, to see if we could put it into practice and that’s good in theory. But we’ve had a number of injuries in camp and now you’re scattered all over the roster and that makes it right. tough. And so, I just felt like that was a way to go this year.”
Campbell also noted that the starters didn’t play the Colts after joint practices last week. Holding them against the Steelers would have meant almost a month without game representatives before the 9/11 opener against Philadelphia.
Of course, that will always be the case with Goff, who Campbell says won’t be playing.
“I don’t see Goff playing and he’s not going to tell me about it,” Campbell said, referring to the quarterback playing in the preseason opener after he was originally scheduled to be held. “I told him that this morning, so he would know my conviction.”
Clarity in the trenches
A week before the downsizing, a pair of defensive linemen are making a strong case for winning jobs.
John Cominsky, who went off waivers earlier this offseason, impressed against the Colts, recording a team-high six tackles to go with a sack. Perhaps even more remarkable is that he stepped into a role he hadn’t practiced – defensive end in the team’s defensive subset – due to injury, and he didn’t missed a beat.
“He never took rep, in practices, walkthroughs, and when Banksy (Eric Banks) fell we said to him, ‘Hey, you gotta go,’ and he did a hell of a job. job,” the defensive line coach said. said Todd Wash. “It’s to his credit, again. He’s smart. He’s never lined up and played that, and he hasn’t had a single bust and he’s played a lot of snaps for us. He’s a honor for him to be proud of what he does.”
Interior lineman Isaiah Buggs is also closing in on a spot on the roster.
“Buggs has really evolved since he got here,” Wash said. “I think we’re getting bigger and more physical on the inside, and that was a big thing we needed to focus on.”
The 300-pounder has the potential to not only improve Detroit’s run defense, but also free up Wash to move Alim McNeill, who impressed by lining up as a technical 3-man while practicing against the Colts.
“You have to see his athleticism, his quickness, his start,” Wash said. “I think he’s had a really good week at three techniques. … We’re really happy that he’s playing a little more at three.
Lions tight end Devin Funchess returned to practice four days after suffering a sting in the first of two joint practices against the Colts. He caught four assists and a touchdown in the preseason opener a week earlier and is now on track to reaffirm his case for a job as a game piece against the Steelers.
Defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike still isn’t training for the Lions. The second-round pick from a year ago continues to struggle with a back injury sustained in the first week of training camp.
“He’s missed a lot,” Wash said of the extended absence from the training ground. “We saw some really good things in the OTAs with the (schematic) changes. That’s how he played at (the University of) Washington, so that was another exciting thing with the transition that we have done.
“But he’s missing a lot, obviously. The only way to improve in football is to do reps. So when he comes back, we’ll have to fire him up very quickly.”