With the Detroit Tigers struggling, the Detroit Lions pre-season could not have started soon enough. I was at Ford Field last night, and was excited to see what the Lions had to offer. And while the Lions did pull a victory from the jaws of defeat, thanks to a late rally led by quarterback Dan Orlovsky and a successful onside kick, the real story was how the first string played. And, well, it was a bit underwhelming (but then again, as a Lions fan, I've been preconditioned to be pessimistic). The first string defense looked just as weak as it always has, letting the first string Bengals offense move up and down the field at will. To their credit, though, they did hold Cincinnati to only field goals, no touchdowns until some of the backups came in, so that deserves praise. Hard to judge the Lions offense because they likely are holding things back, but Roy Williams looked good. Offensive line was eh, but with so many new players on the line (only center Dominic Raiola and left tackle Jeff Backus played significantly for the Lions last season) it may take a while to gel. I'll reserve further detailed comments until I watch the television broadcast this weekend (yes -- I'm a football geek -- But in my defense, when you want to see how specific players looked, it's hard to do it in person) but here are some other quick thoughts.
** Calvin Johnson only had two catches, but looked solid when he was on the field. His second catch forced him to leave his feet and he made an impressive grab. The real star of the game though was Shaun McDonald, who looks like he could be this year's Mike Furrey, who comes over from St. Louis and has a breakout season.
** Both backup quarterbacks, J.T. O'Sullivan and Dan Orlovsky looked good, for the most part. Sure, they made a few mistakes, had a few turnovers, but for the most part, they looked good for the first pre-season game. Maybe Drew Stanton's injury isn't as bad for the Lions as it first appeared.
** TJ Duckett's fumble was not good. We fumbled the ball quite a bit last season, and if there was one positive thing you could say about Steve Mariucci coached teams, it was that they hardly ever fumbled. That is something that has to be corrected.
** The secondary still scares me. A lot. Fernando Bryant, who supposedly has had a great training camp, looked completely lost out there. Chad Johnson will do that to a lot of people, but still. That was not good.