The Lions coaches will have some tough decisions to make before 9 p.m. Friday.
After the Lions jumped out to a 28-7 in the first quarter of Thursday’s final exhibition game against Buffalo, most of the second- and third-team players failed to make any lasting impressions and momentarily gave up that lead.
The Lions held on to win, 38-32, but the Bills fought back to take a 32-31 lead early in the fourth quarter, exploiting issues in the Lions secondary and special teams.
NFL teams must trim their rosters from 75 players to 53 by Friday at 9 p.m.
The Bills struck first with an easy opening drive, ending with a four-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Steve Johnson, who fooled cornerback Jonte Green to find open space in the end zone.
Mikel Leshoure had an impressive outing in his second exhibition game. He played through the first drive of the third quarter, running 15 times for 43 yards and the first touchdown of his career. He also had a 33-yard reception on the Lions first drive.
That catch helped setup the Lions first score, a 24-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson, but both were done for the night after the drive.
The Lions then started piling it on in the first quarter. They got the ball back immediately after scoring when Ashlee Palmer forced return man Brad Smith to fumble on the kickoff. Reshard Langford recovered the fumble for the Lions, giving them a new drive at the Buffalo 9. Two plays later, Leshoure scored from two yards away.
Quarterback Shaun Hill added a one-yard rushing touchdown, and Green had an interception return for a touchdown that put the Lions up 28-7 after one quarter.
But the Lions went quiet after that.
The Bills scored the first two touchdowns of the second half to cut the Lions’ lead to 28-24. After a Jason Hanson field goal, Bills wide receiver Marcus Easley scored on a 100-yard kick return. The Bills converted a two-point conversion to take a 32-21 lead with 14:05 left in the game.
Quarterback Kellen Moore didn’t have a great night, but his receivers dropped many passes. Moore, who took over in the second quarter, had his best drive after the Lions lost the lead, and he scored on a one-yard run to give the Lions a 38-32 lead, which proved to be the final score.
Rookie wide receiver Ryan Broyles had a strong night with three catches for 54 yards. Patrick Edwards only had two catches on nine targets, but had a 30-yard punt return that could help him stick around.
New cornerback Kevin Barnes had a handful of good plays, but much of the secondary struggled after the starters came out of the game.