On Thursday, the Cleveland Browns will host the Detroit Lions in their second preseason game of the year. This is more than just a "warm-up" game for the Browns, because in Week 6, Cleveland will again host the Lions, but in the regular season. To help preview this week's game, I reached out to Sean Yuille from Pride of Detroit and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: "Ziggy Ansah was one of the prospects Browns fans were interested in this offseason. He got off to a big start against the Jets last week, snatching a pick six against Mark Sanchez. How did he look the rest of the game, or what's been the review of him in training camp thus far?"
Sean: "So far during camp, Ansah has flashed a lot of potential, but he has also shown that he is still a rookie who is learning how to play in the NFL. That's to be expected, especially for someone relatively new to the game of football. All things considered, he seems to be on the right track right now, and last week against the Jets he displayed great awareness, not only on the pick six, but also on a play where he had a tackle for a loss. We really didn't get to see much of his pass-rushing ability, but generally speaking, the reviews have been positive so far for Ansah."
Chris: "Is Reggie Bush the definitive No. 1 running back in Detroit? Also, were Lions fans excited when the team acquired him?"
Sean: "Bush was penciled in as the starter as soon as he signed with the Lions. This was by far the most exciting move the Lions made this offseason, as fans were talking about the possibility of him signing months before free agency even began. When it actually happened, there was a lot of excitement because the Lions added another playmaker to their offense. More importantly, they added someone who can hopefully fill the Jahvid Best role in the offense and take some of the attention away from Calvin Johnson. We already got a preview of that against the Jets when a cornerback dropped off Johnson (which never happens) to cover Bush coming out of the backfield. Big things are expected out of Bush this year and beyond."
Chris: "Tell us about one unknown player on the Lions who has been a "training camp star," so-to-speak, who we can look forward to watching on Thursday."
Sean: "Wide receiver Matt Willis signed with the Lions back in June to basically no fanfare. He was considered nothing more than a camp body, but he has since put himself in a position where he could make the team as the Lions' No. 5 wide receiver. He's excelled on special teams, and he made two outstanding catches last week, including one that went for a touchdown. When he joined the Lions, Willis was best known for once appearing on American Ninja Warrior, but now he's giving fans, coaches and teammates a reason to remember him for his play on the field."
Chris: "The Lions are in a similar situation at kicker that the Browns are in: your long-time veteran, Jason Hanson, is gone. Now, there seems to be a camp battle between veteran David Akers and rookie Havard Rugland. Is this a serious competition, or is there a significant favorite?"
Sean: "It's really both. The Lions are giving both players an equal chance to make their case for why they should be the starting kicker, but at the same time, it's pretty clear Akers is the overwhelming favorite. Unless he starts missing kicks left and right or he suffers an injury, the expectation is for the Lions to go with the man who has experience and a track record of success in the NFL on his side. Rugland has become a fan favorite considering his story is so unique and he has shown an ability to consistently make kicks, but in a make-or-break season, I can't see the Lions going with someone who just started playing American football."
Chris: "QB Thaddeus Lewis started for the Browns against the Steelers in Week 17 last year and did an admirable job. He is buried at fourth on the Lions' depth chart, though. Is there any word about how he's done in camp or if he has a chance at making the roster?"
Sean: "There are a lot of fans -- myself included -- who don't understand why Kellen Moore is the Lions' No. 3 quarterback. He just doesn't look the part of an NFL quarterback, yet he seems firmly entrenched as the third-stringer at this position. We'd like to see Lewis get a real shot at beating out Moore, but it doesn't seem like that's going to happen. Lewis only came in at the very end of the preseason opener, and he only got to hand the ball off as a result. Moore, on the other hand, got a significant amount of playing time, which is exactly what happened last year. If Lewis doesn't play much again this week, chances are he will soon be released."
Thanks again to Sean for taking the time to answer my questions. You can read my answers to Sean's questions over at Pride of Detroit.