Tight CB battle causes change in latest Lions 53-man projection

The battle to make the 53-man roster at cornerback for the Lions should be an interesting one. Steven King/Icon Sportswire

The Detroit Lions are done with their first week of training camp and impressions are starting to be made. There's still a long way to go -- and four preseason games to be played -- before the initial 53-man roster and 10-man practice squads are set, so plenty of time for some changes.

That said, here's a revised 2017 roster projection (asterisk denotes practice squad).

Quarterback (2)

In: Matthew Stafford, Jake Rudock

Cut: Brad Kaaya*

Change: None.

Why: Preseason games will likely decide the backup battle. So far, Rudock has the clear advantage both in play during practice and how the Lions handled Rudock and Kaaya during the mock game. Rudock was the clear No. 2 on Saturday and should have the inside edge to winning the backup job.

Running back (4)

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

Cut: Matt Asiata, Mike James, Tion Green*

Change: None

Why: Abdullah and Riddick continue to be set and Zenner seems to be finding himself an actual role in the offense. If the Lions split returning duties -- they did that in 2015 -- Washington could win the kick-return role. Otherwise, he's still on the roster for now, but needs to have a good preseason.

Wide receiver (5)

In: Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, TJ Jones, Jared Abbrederis

Cut: Jace Billingsley*, Dontez Ford, Michael Rector, Noel Thomas, Keshawn Martin, Ryan Spadola

Change: None

Why: After Marvin Jones, Tate and Golladay, it is a legitimate tossup. TJ Jones appeared to be separating himself the first week of camp, but needs to build on that. Abbrederis and Billingsley are both really close behind. Spadola was making a push, too, but has been sitting out practice because of injury the past few days and is losing valuable impression time. A sleeper could be Thomas, who has made a bunch of impressive catches during practice, but he has a better chance to end up on the practice squad.

Tight End (4)

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

Cut: Robert Tonyan, Brandon Barnes, Khari Lee

Change: None

Why: Ebron's injury on the first day of training camp shows why the Lions could use four tight ends on the roster and Wick is in position to be No. 4. Both Lee and Robert have had moments. Lee got some run with the No. 1 unit on some special teams Saturday, so he could be a player to watch.

Offensive tackle (4)

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

Cut: Corey Robinson, Nick Becton, Storm Norton*

Injured: Taylor Decker (PUP)

Why: Norton could beat out Lucas for the fourth tackle slot, but right now it's hard to pull the veteran Lucas out of the final 53-man roster until it's seen how he's used in games. But Lucas has received no work at left tackle thus far with the No. 1 unit, which Norton has, so that could be telling from the standpoint that the Lions are giving Norton a bunch of chances to win a roster spot. If Corey Robinson comes off injury at any point, he should be in the mix, too.

Interior offensive line (5)

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

Cut: Matt Rotheram, Brandon Thomas, Leo Koloamatangi*

Change: None.

Why: With Dahl having flexibility inside and at tackle, he remains as the No. 5 interior lineman. Tomlinson ends up being the backup interior lineman at guard. A surprise player could be center Koloamatangi from Hawaii. His build is good for a center and he's handled himself well in individual drills. He'll be a sleeper to earn a spot and should at least be a developmental player on the practice squad.

Defensive end (5)

In: Ezekiel Ansah, Kerry Hyder, Cornelius Washington, Anthony Zettel, Brandon Copeland

Suspended: Armonty Bryant

Cut: Alex Barrett*, Jeremiah Valoaga, Pat O'Connor*

Change: None.

Why: Bryant's suspension shakes things up and Washington's injury opened up a chance for Zettel and Copeland to show their value. Copeland could end up as a starting linebacker -- he's competing at the SAM spot with Antwione Williams -- but his versatility is key. All three rookies -- O'Connor, Barrett and Valoaga -- have shown flashes. Barrett, in particular, has impressed me the past few days.

Defensive tackle (5)

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

Suspended: Khyri Thornton

Cut: Bruce Gaston, Ego Ferguson

Change: Hill on, Ferguson off.

Why: The top three seem set, but one of the underrated early movers in camp has been Hill. He's gotten some work with the first-team defense and has consistently been with the second unit when Kris Kocurek does his usual defensive line subs. He showed good pressure, getting to Stafford on Saturday, and has been trending well. But it's still a close battle.

Linebacker (6)

In: Jarrad Davis, Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow, Antwione Williams, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Nick Bellore

Cut: Steve Longa*, Thurston Armbrister

Change: Bellore on

Why: This group seems pretty solid, although Worrilow has been getting fewer reps than I thought he would. Armbrister has missed a few practices with injury, but the other two players on that cut line, Longa and Bellore, each have had good moments and have been used on top special-teams units. This is an area where there could be a surprise because of special teams.

Cornerback (6)

In: Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, Teez Tabor, Jamal Agnew, Johnson Bademosi, Quandre Diggs

Cut: Adairius Barnes*, Desmond Lawrence, Josh Thornton, D.J. Hayden

Change: Hayden off

Why: This is the biggest move I made from the initial projection, making Hayden a player who is cut. With Agnew appearing to have a legitimate shot at the return job and a player Detroit is grooming as a potential future slot corner, Hayden is somewhat expendable. Diggs has done a good job in camp and if he wins the slot corner job convincingly, I'm not sure if there's real room for Hayden on the roster. But as I've said, it's very, very early and this could change next week.

Safety (4)

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

Cut: Alex Carter, Rolan Milligan, Charles Washington*

Change: None.

Why: These guys seem to be the group, although Washington is in the same category as Bellore and Longa and the receivers -- make some plays on special teams and you have a real shot. Washington has been more visible in camp, so it will be interesting to see how he does in the preseason. Carter has a chance to make a strong move, too.

Specialists (3)

In: Matt Prater, Sam Martin, Don Muhlbach

Cut: Kasey Redfern

Why: As long as Martin comes back from the non-football injury list, this is what it will be.