The Detroit Lions, once again, gave their fans little to cheer about in 2020 as they missed the playoffs for the 18th time since 2000. However, the Lions decided to change things up over the offseason to begin a new era. Some of those moves included shipping off longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for QB Jared Goff (and draft picks), as well as bringing in Dan Campbell to be the new head coach.
The Lions will get their first opportunity to showcase their new-look roster as they take on the Buffalo Bills in preseason action on Friday. While it's a chance for fans to see how Detroit's roster is shaping up, it's also an opportunity for players to make their case as to why they deserve a roster spot going forward.
Here's a look at three Lions players to watch in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason.
Detroit Lions Players to Watch
1. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Wide Receiver
Wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown is one Lions rookie that's been getting a lot of attention throughout training camp. The 2021 fourth-round pick has been impressing his coaches with his work ethic and playmaking abilities. Named first-team All-Pac-12 in 2020, St. Brown looked great throughout his tenure with the USC Trojans. In 30 games over three years with the school, he caught 178 balls for 2,270 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Considering how the Lions are without a clear-cut No. 1 WR, St. Brown's skillset has him as a legitimate candidate to end the year as Detroit's top pass-catching option. A strong showing against the Bills would go a long way in helping him make his case.
2. Penei Sewell, Right Tackle
Right tackle Penei Sewell was one of the top offensive linemen available at the 2021 NFL Draft — hence why the Lions selected him at No. 7. While Sewell opted out of the 2020 NCAA football season, he more than proved what he was capable of in the previous year. Sewell suited up in 14 games for the Oregon Ducks in 2019, not allowing a single sack on 927 offensive snaps. His 95.8 overall Pro Football Focus grade that year was the best among all offensive linemen, which shows how special a talent he is. Considering how the Lions gave up 2.6 sacks per game (T-22nd) last year, it'll be interesting to see just how effective Sewell can be at the NFL level and Friday's game will give us a taste of that.
3. Jared Goff, Quarterback
Most starting quarterbacks don't see a lot of preseason action until the later games. That won't be the case for Jared Goff on Friday. Campbell has made it abundantly clear that he and the Lions coaching staff will play any starters as long as they're healthy because they want to properly evaluate the group. After spending five seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, Goff will make his Detroit debut on Friday — the first game of the post-Matthew Stafford era. With the game also being at home, it'll be interesting to see how the fan base reacts to their new signal-caller. While Goff recorded more than 3,800 passing yards for the third straight season last year, his 20 touchdowns to 13 interceptions and 7 fumbles leave a lot to be desired. Perhaps a fresh start in Detroit is what he needs and he'll have the chance to prove that against Buffalo.
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