Detroit Lions should go lighter in other spots and keep more running backs on the roster

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Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez answers three questions about the Detroit Lions27-17 loss in their preseason finale against the Indianapolis Colts at Ford Field.

What’s the toughest roster decision the Lions have?

It will be running back, but it shouldn’t be. It’s assumed the Lions will keep three running backs plus fullback Jason Cabinda. But the running backs have looked good all preseason; the Lions should go deeper at the position and maybe go light at tight end or just keep two quarterbacks. Jermar Jefferson was excellent in the first half, fighting for tough yards and making the highlight play of the game when he hurdled George Odum. Godwin Igwebuike looked good again, running hard and scoring a touchdown. And Craig Reynolds just has a nice blend of power and instinct. D’Andre Swift should be fine, but you can't rule out at least some concern about his groin injury. The Lions kept four running backs last year because of concerns with Kerryon Johnson’s health, and they should go deep again at a position of strength.

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Detroit Lions running back Jermar Jefferson (28) runs against Indianapolis Colts safety Shawn Davis (31) during the first half of a preseason game at Ford Field in Detroit, Friday, August 27, 2021.
Detroit Lions running back Jermar Jefferson (28) runs against Indianapolis Colts safety Shawn Davis (31) during the first half of a preseason game at Ford Field in Detroit, Friday, August 27, 2021.

Who stood out to you in this game?

The offense certainly looked good finishing off drives for a change. But the defense stood out to me more. It just seemed defensive guys were making plays everywhere. Mike Ford was all over the place making stops; Kevin Strong missed a sure sack that led to a 60-yard pass, but he rebounded with a sack on the next play. After holding the Colts to three field goals in the first half, the defense not only stopped the Colts on the first drive of the third quarter, Corn Elder intercepted Brett Hundley’s pass on third down for what should have been a pick-six. Bubble guys tend to turn it up a level for the final preseason game, but it was still nice to see a defense that was so bad last year step up and make plays consistently.

Detroit Lions fans cheer during the second half of a preseason game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021.
Detroit Lions fans cheer during the second half of a preseason game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021.

What was the atmosphere like at Ford Field?

I didn’t attend the preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills due to a personal emergency — by which I mean my golf game was on life support during a big birthday vacation. (Just a shade over 21!) So Friday was my first game back at Ford Field with fans in the stands. I didn’t realize I missed the fans and the carnival-like atmosphere so much. The stadium wasn’t exactly packed — the announced attendance was 37,102 — but it was fairly loud for a meaningless game, plus the Tigers were playing next door. From the cheerleaders to players being announced to the fans doing the wave, it was a welcome sight. I forgot how much the fans’ reactions, like booing a bad call or cheering Jefferson’s hurdle, added to the vibe of the game. Even if the Lions aren’t very good this year, I’ll look forward to the atmosphere provided by the NFL’s most loyal, diehard fans.

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions should keep more running backs on their roster