The 2018 Preseason Kicks Off As The Detroit Lions Travel To Oakland To Take On The Raiders.
The first game for the Detroit Lions in the 2018 preseason takes them to Oakland where they play the Raiders after doing a few joint practices with the team earlier in the week. While it is the first preseason game of the year, meaning very short playing time for the starters, these games are important for the rookies, undrafted free agents, and players trying to make the 53-man roster.
Both teams landed new head coaches during the off-season, as the Lions got former New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, while the Raiders went big and got former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and ESPN Monday Night Football, commentator Jon Gruden for a big 10-year, $100 million dollar deal. This will be both coaches first game with their new teams, and that will be the main focus for the first game of the preseason.
2018 Preseason Battle To Watch: Cornerback
We all know Darius Slay is the number one cornerback on this team, but the number two role has been interesting through camp and practices. While Nevin Lawson was gone due to the birth of his child, DeShawn Shead and Teez Tabor have taken reps at the number two spot, both showing ups and downs.
Shead impressed during the Lions training camp, enough to consider him a starter, but has struggled against the Raiders in joint practices, hurting his stock. The opposite could be said about Tabor, while he wasn’t struggling in training camp, he just wasn’t outperforming Shead and Lawson enough to get attention – but during the Raiders joint practices he seems to have improved and now can be considered a threat to Lawson.
Lawson has practiced well both in training camp and against the Raiders, so he is the front-runner as he should be. In the first unofficial depth chart for the Lions, Lawson was listed as the number two cornerback. Expect this battle to last all four games.
Kerry Hyder Returns One Year Later
Last year in the first preseason game of the year, defensive end Kerry Hyder tore his Achilles and would miss the entire 2017 campaign. This year he is back and proving he can come back better than ever. His replacement last season, former sixth-round pick Anthony Zettel did well and is in contention to start again this season.
With Ziggy Ansah out for this game, you can expect Hyder and Zettel to start on each side, but they will be confined to fighting for one spot as Ansah should be starting week one of the regular season against the New York Jets.
Hyder returning will bring more depth to a weak defensive line in Detroit, and having three starting defensive ends in their rotation will make it stronger than expected.
Frank Ragnow And Kerryon Johnson Make Their Preseason Debut
The first-round pick for the Lions, center Frank Ragnow will be making his NFL debut at starting left guard, as the team sees Graham Glasgow as the center. Ragnow has been impressing in camp so far, but like any young player has had his struggles.
Behind Ragnow should be second-round running back Kerryon Johnson, whose tape and training camp has won praise from fans. They believe him to be the savior of the Lions poor running game and that he can be the one to rush for 100 yards in a game, something that hasn’t been done since 2013. Both rookies will have the lights shone brightly on them as they look to showcase why they were taken so early in the draft.
From what has been seen and heard in these joint practices, the Lions secondary has been impressive in coverage, grabbing many interceptions. That could be a problem for the Raiders, who won’t see much of quarterback Derek Carr, and more of E.J. Manuel and Connor Cook which could lead to more mistakes for the team and openings for the Lions.
The running game might have some issues as the offensive line will be going up against a younger, improved Raiders defensive line. The Raiders added first-round talent defensive tackle Maurice Hurst in the fifth round of this year’s Draft, and another first-round talent defensive end in Arden Key who was taken in the third round. The battle in the trenches will be for real.
In the end, though, the Lions secondary will be the reason they win this game, winning 24-14 as Patricia walks out of Oakland with his head held high.