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Detroit Lions’ Scorecard: Breaking Down the Play of Wide Receivers Against the New England Patriots

August 26th, 2013 at 11:55 AM
By Max DeMara

Every Monday during the regular season, the "Detroit Lions' Scorecard" will take a closer look at the on field performance of an important positional group and rank their performance during the prior game.

With a big week of cuts looming and a need for impact players, the Detroit Lions took on the New England Patriots, looking to find some difference makers to take the field opposite Calvin Johnson at receiver. As has been a common theme this preseason, not much changed.

'Detroit Lions Rookie Minicamp' photo (c) 2012, davelawrence8 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Detroit's top three receivers were Reggie Bush, Joique Bell and Joseph Fauria, two running backs and a tight end. For a team desperately needing to find impact players on the outside, that wasn't a great result, especially considering Johnson was held out with injury. Opportunity knocked, but for the third game in a row, there weren't many answers.

The overall grade isn't high as a result, with the position earning a disappointing D in last week's game.

1. Ryan Broyles, C+. Two solid receptions for Broyles for 32 yards. It was a brief showing for one of the two players expected to play second fiddle to Johnson, which is understandable given the team is trying to ease Broyles back into game shape. Still, he should have been provided more time with the first unit to stretch his legs in the third preseason game. Is Broyles healthy enough to be a solid number three this season? At this point, nobody can say, which is concerning.

2. Michael Spurlock, C. Spurlock was the lone Lions' receiver to reach the end zone against the Patriots, contributing two receptions for 29 yards. Most impressive was his slippery move on special teams, as he tiptoed down the sidelines and turned a return into a big gain. Perhaps that's the reason the Lions decide to keep him, but more needed to be done.

3. Matt Willis, D+. The odds-on favorite to capture the fifth spot, Willis didn't have a fantastic game against New England, but did make a nice 13 yard reception early in the game. Willis's solid effort through camp and the first two games earned him a free pass, but for someone who needs to make plays every week in order to earn his spot, it wasn't a fantastic effort.

4. Nate Burleson, D. Three targets, one catch, six yards. That's not great for the man thought to be number two behind Johnson this fall. Shockingly, that was Burleson's highest output of the preseason. Perhaps like Broyles, the Lions are merely saving Burleson, but the team should be trying to work him into action more in order to find out if he can be the answer opposite Johnson.

5. Patrick Edwards, E. Even though Edwards appears to have sewn up the fourth wide receiver spot, his play has been downright terrible in the preseason despite his major opportunity to shine. In with the starting unit, Edwards failed to stretch out for a touchdown early in the first quarter against the Patriots. He was targeted four times only catching one pass for six yards, and his play remains suspect. At this point, given his sparse production, Edwards does not look like a prospect primed for a breakout.

6. Kris Durham, E. Durham was only targeted once and collected no catches. As of today, he's probably on the outside looking in with regards to the roster competition, given players like Edwards, Spurlock and Willis have experience on special teams and have been getting more targets to boot. Durham might be kept within earshot if Detroit loses players to injury, but keeping him on the roster would be foolish.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

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Tags: Calvin Johnson, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Football, Kris Durham, Matt Willis, Michael Spurlock, Nate Burleson, NFL, Patrick Edwards, Ryan Broyles

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