Dan Campbell explained how tough the Detroit Lions roster decisions were this summer when he brought up last year’s team to make his point.
“Ultimately, we’re probably going to have to let go of some players that were here all last year that we relied on, did everything we asked of them and produced for us last year,” Campbell said. “But this is also a sign of progress.”
The Lions waived one such player on Monday, cutting Tom Kennedy a day after he finished as the team leader in receptions (16), receiving yards (143) and receiving touchdowns (two) in the preseason.
Kennedy, a former professional lacrosse player, played in 12 games last season for the Lions after spending most of the 2019-20 season on the practice squad. He caught six passes for 54 yards and threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Kalif Raymond on a trick play.
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Campbell praised Kennedy for his reliability this summer, but the Lions ultimately saw Kennedy as a player with a limited role and limited upside.
A slot-only receiver, Kennedy contributed sparingly on special teams last season, and the Lions have a deeper receiving corps this fall with the additions of DJ Chark and Jameson Williams and the return of Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond.
Williams is expected to miss the first half or so of the season while he recovers from January knee surgery. Quintez Cephus, Trinity Benson and former USFL running back Maurice Alexander are also competing for roster spots.
“It was tough (making roster cuts) last year, but this year … our talent level is better,” Campbell said. “And the competition is better. I’ll just say it again, the better the competition, the better players respond to that circumstance, and so you have a talented player and if he’s not challenged every day, he’s never going to develop. But now you have someone who can challenge that player, they start to grow together and get a lot better, and that’s where we are. I just feel like we’re starting to get into that phase where last year we weren’t quite there.”
NFL teams have until 4 p.m. to set their initial 53-man rosters.
Jarrad Davis’ second stint with the Detroit Lions was short.
The Lions released Davis on Monday in their first wave of the latest round of cuts to a 53-man roster, NFL Network reported.
Davis was considered a long shot to make the roster after the emergence of 2022 draft pick Malcolm Rodriguez and several key special teams players also in the linebacker room. He played primarily with the third-team defense this summer and got the most playing time of any linebacker — 30 snaps — in Sunday’s preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A first-round pick in 2017, Davis spent the first four seasons of his NFL career in Detroit before signing a one-year free agent contract with the New York Jets last spring.
He had a career-high 100 tackles and six sacks in 2018, but battled injuries in his final two seasons in Detroit.
After another injury-riddled season with the Jets last fall, Davis re-signed with the Lions to compete for a job at linebacker this spring.
Rodriguez, a sixth-round pick out of Oklahoma State, has been a standout in training camp and is in the mix to start alongside Alex Anzalone in Week 1. and Josh Woods and Anthony Pittman are vying for special teams roles.
The Lions did not officially make any trades prior to the close of league business at 4 p.m. Monday, but have notified several other players of their release.
Offensive tackle Kendall Lamm was cut after signing with the Lions this summer, and the team is reportedly parting ways with Devin Funchess (Michigan) and Kalil Pimpleton (Central Michigan)
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The Lions open the season Sept. 11 at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.
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This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions roster cuts: Updates ahead of Tuesday’s deadline