After an especially lazy Labor Day morning, I have yet to sip even a single drop of coffee, let alone three cups. Rather than attempt to rehash everything that happened last weekend, I’ll simply crib from Adam Caplan’s excellent Transaction Blog:
Claimed CB Cletis Gordon off of waivers from the Texans, waived WR Eric Fowler, released CB Keith Smith, waived WR Glenn Holt, released CB Dexter Wynn with injury waiver, signed QB Brooks Bollinger, claimed QB Kevin O'Connell off of waivers from New England, released G Terrence Metcalf, waived WR D.J. Boldin, waived LB Rob Francois, waived CB LaMarcus Hicks, waived DE Ryan Kees, acquired S Ko Simpson for an undisclosed 2010 draft choice, waived DE Orion Martin, released DT Chuck Darby, waived OT Lydon Murtha, placed CB Chris Roberson on IR, released DT Shaun Smith, waived LB Rufus Alexander, released QB Brooks Bollinger, released G Milford Brown, waived TE Carson Butler, released RB Aveion Cason, released WR Keary Colbert, waived DE Sean Conover, released K Billy Cundiff, waived RB Tristan Davis, waived LB Zack Follett, waived C Dan Gerberry, waived TE Dan Gronkowski, released WR Dane Looker, released S Calvin Lowry, waived CB Ramzee Robinson, released S Stuart Schweigert, waived LB Spenser Smith, waived WR John Standeford, waived: DE Ikaika Alama-Francis, CB Cletis Gordon, WR Adam Jennings, traded QB Kevin O'Connell to New York Jets for future draft pick, claimed DE Copeland Bryan off waivers from Buffalo Bills, claimed WR Yamon Figurs off waivers from Baltimore Ravens, claimed CB Marcus McCauley off waivers from Minnesota Vikings, claimed CB Kevin Hobbs off waivers from Seattle Seahawks.
Signed to practice squad: WR John Broussard, TE Carson Butler, RB Tristan Davis, LB Zack Follett, C Dan Gerberry, TE Dan Gronkowski, OT Lydon Murtha.
Whew, got all that? Really, there aren’t too many surprises here. Mayhew flipped O’Connell, though faster than I anticipated; Cletis Gordon, Five-O, and Adam Jennings un-made the final roster; then a DR, KR, and two CBs were claimed off of the waiver wire. My guess is that McCauley and Hobbs will be given a chance to compete for a spot at nickel corner, and the loser will be shipped off as soon as another DT is acquired. Why a DT? Well, with
Orien Harris (CORRECTION: several sharp-eyes readers noted that I got the wrong "Orion"; Orien Harris is still on the roster--though that hardly eliminates the concerns I expressed below), Chuck Darby, Shaun Smith, and Five-O all sent packing, the Lions are down to Grady Jackson, Landon Cohen, Sammie Hill, and Andre Fluellen at DT.
Carrying only four DTs doesn’t sound dire—but Jackson is going to be 15-20 snap situational guy, Cohen’s a seventh-rounder in his second year, Hill was playing 3-4 DE in the NAIA like nine months ago, and Fluellen has been working primarily at DE. There isn’t a single proven, reliable starter to play DT--though Cohen certainly read well for the role, when he auditioned against Atlanta. In order to stop the run, this defense is going to need outstanding---both explosive AND disciplined—linebacker play, as well as help from the DBs.
New (presumptive) starting safety, Ko Simpson brings both size and speed to the position; one can only hope his athleticism leads to more plays made back there. I’ve been sweating bullets about the cornerbacks since the day they let Leigh Bodden walk, and the addition of two waiver-wire scrubs doesn’t assuage my fears—especially given the physical-but-lackluster play of Eric King this preseason. Even if this unit miraculously stays healthy, both skill and depth are going to remain a problem.
On the other hand, the addition of Yamon Figurs is one I’m excited about. A 2007 third-round pick of the Ravens, Figurs exploded in his rookie season in relief of the injured B. J. Sams. Figurs became the primary returner in 2008, but didn’t build upon his initial success. The Ravens signed former Titans CB/KR Chris Carr—remember him?—and Carr edged out Figurs for the returner gig. As Figurs couldn’t crack the WR depth chart, he was released.
I still think Figurs has the explosiveness to be a primary returner for the Lions—and with Cason gone, the Lions have only one player with actual experience as an NFL returner: #1 CB Philip Buchanon. Figurs should have the leg up on the punt returner gig, and should push Williams and Brown for looks at kick returner, too.
When you take a step back and look at how incredibly different this team is from the 0-16 squad, especially on defense, it’s impressive. Barring any further miracle transactions—and without knowing the compensation given for Ko Simpson, or received for Kevin O’Connell—the Lions have very well in turning the roster over this season. However, there’s still a long way to go before this roster matches up, on paper, with the better squads in the NFL.