Here are 5 candidates for the Game Ball. Your vote will decide the winner!
Despite another poor start in the preseason, the Detroit Lions had a few good individual performances against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After all, the Lions did mount at 21-point comeback victory. While many of the players that led that comeback are either backups or players that won’t be on the team in a couple weeks, they still deserve some love.
But before we get into this week’s candidate for Game Ball, here are the standings after last week’s game (3 points for first place in voting, 2 for second place, 1 for third place.) Note: There was no Game Ball handed out in Week 1 of the preseason
Preseason Game Ball standings:
Darius Slay - 3
Theo Riddick - 2
LeGarrette Blount - 1
Blount makes his second consecutive appearance on this list after displaying exactly why the Lions picked him up in free agency. Blount led all running backs with 11 carries for 45 yards on Friday night, but it was his situational running that really pushed him over the top.
Blount’s best carry of the game came on fourth-and-1. He was hit in the backfield and looked like he was headed for a loss on the play, but his brute strength allowed him to push forward for a clutch conversion.
Ricky Jean Francois
If there has been one defensive lineman who has been continually disruptive throughout both training camp and the preseason, it has been free agent pickup Ricky Jean Francois.
Francois continues to show his comfort level in Matt Patricia’s defense, and on Friday it led to six tackles and a pressure or two on the quarterback.
Last week, Powell came fourth in voting. This week, I get the feeling he’ll be a tad higher:
80-yard punt return TD!— NFL (@NFL) August 25, 2018
Brandon Powell (@_Powellbp4) to the HOUSE. #DETvsTB
: CBS pic.twitter.com/7iLdpJLqgv
Powell’s punt return touchdown was instrumental in the Lions’ comeback victory, but his night was not just limited to special teams contributions. Powell led the team in both receptions (six) and yards (45), catching every single target that came his way.
It’s still hard to sell me on a fifth wide receiver on the 53-man roster, but if the Lions choose to go that route, Powell has to be a leading candidate right now.
While the other tight ends continue to struggle to make an impact, Hakeem Valles is just rolling along looking like a player that could not only make the roster, but could contribute right away.
Getting a fair amount of time with the starters, Vallen caught three passes for 38 yards, including a huge third-down conversion when the Lions were backed up in their own side of the field. Those are the kind of plays that will endear you to a quarterback.
For as much as fans have panicked about the Lions’ backup quarterback situation, both put out strong efforts on Friday night. Though both quarterbacks still have yet to show the talent to go deep down field, Cassel had nice command of the offense against the Bucs.
The Lions hadn’t scored a touchdown by the time Matthew Stafford left the game, but Cassel took over for two drives, and ended both with a touchdown. Granted, he was aided by some very solid rushing plays, but he even looked okay when he had to throw it.