ALLEN PARK -- It's do or die time for many players on the Detroit Lions 90-man roster.
Training camp has concluded, two preseason games are in the rearview mirror and roster cut dates are rapidly approaching.
Teams around the NFL will be forced to trim their rosters to 75 this Monday. Those fortunate enough to survive that round of attrition won't have much time to relax. The following Friday – August 31 – represents the deadline for teams to cut 22 more players in order to be compliant with the league-mandated 53-man roster.
Even then, some players won't be fully secure, as teams will scan the waiver wire for upgrades.
For players who have not secured a roster spot, the time is now to demonstrate they belong. Even if they don't land on their current team's final roster, these preseason games represent a very real opportunity to put their skills on tape in order to find a job elsewhere.
Below are the five Detroit Lions faced with the most urgency to perform this Saturday, when the team faces the Oakland Raiders.
Kellen Moore - QB
The rookie quarterback out of Boise State went undrafted and signed with the Lions as a free agent.
When looking at his collegiate statistics, it's hard to believe Moore went undrafted. Atop his list of accomplishments was his record as a starter – an incredible 50-3.
However, Moore lacks the size and arm that most look for in an NFL signal caller and those shortcomings have been evident throughout training camp.
The coaching staff has been publicly supportive of Moore but his on-the-field performance isn't encouraging.
Moore needs to prove he is worthy of the Lions 53-man roster otherwise the team may simply opt to keep two quarterbacks. If Moore doesn't make the 53-man roster, he seems to be a prime candidate for the Lions practice squad.
Carmen Messina - LB
Messina, who signed him as an undrafted free agent, has been a pleasant surprise for the Lions.
He's made plays when given the opportunity, proved to be a fast learner and has been complimented by the coaching staff due to his intelligence.
Despite all the positives, it still seems like an uphill battle for the rookie linebacker to make the team's final roster.
If Messina wants to be included on a team's active roster, he's going to have to put some strong tape out there for all to see because – at the moment – he seems destined for the practice squad.
Everette Brown - DE
When he left Florida State, Brown was considered to be a strong NFL prospect and was selected by the Panthers – which traded up to select him - in the second round of the 2009 draft.
The undersized 25-year-old has shown he has some skills and belongs on an NFL roster, the question is, will it be with the Lions?
Detroit is deep among the defensive line and Brown isn't going to overtake any of the team's top four defensive ends. Even if the Lions decide to keep additional defensive linemen, he'd be hard-pressed to leap frog Andre Fluellen or Ronnell Lewis.
Brown needs to have a strong showing against the Raiders and remind other teams he's still the same player that warranted a second-round pick a few years ago.
Maurice Stovall - WR
Stovall has carved a role for himself in the NFL by being a strong contributor on special teams. With that said, the Lions coaching staff has not been happy with their special teams performance thus far.
Stovall will not make the team on his ability as a receiver alone, so it is vital the coaching staff still believes he can be a valuable player in kickoff / punt coverage – his specialties.
The Lions recently brought in free agent and three-time Pro Bowler Kassim Osgood, who is known for his special teams prowess. It is unlikely the Lions brought in Osgood to only cut him several days later, so Stovall needs to prove he is the better option with a strong performance this weekend.
Joique Bell - RB
Bell has been an NFL journeyman after a hyper-productive collegiate career at Wayne State.
One must begin to think that if Bell can't stick soon, he may never be able to – especially given the short shelf-life of NFL running backs.
Still, he is not a lock to make the roster and – even if he does – probably won't get many regular season touches.
Bell needs to demonstrate to the Lions he's worth keeping and using. If that doesn't pan out, he needs to at least pique the interest of other teams with a strong performance.
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