When it comes to determining how much playing time Lions' starters will get in the preseason finale against Buffalo, coach Jim Schwartz may get some valuable assistance from the medical staff.
When asked if his starters would play Thursday night, Schwartz gave what sounded like a positive answer. “If guys are healthy they'll play,” he said. “We may have some situations where we hold guys out that are just healing up to be at 100 percent, but if guys are 100 percent and they're healthy they're going to play.”
NFL coaches face a difficult challenge when setting their lineups for the final preseason game, often juggling the risk of injury to key players with the obligation to give fans who paid full price for tickets the chance to see a team's starters for a series or two. The “if” in Schwartz's statement gives him cover to hold players he chooses out of the lineup, and limit the reps of several others.
RB Kevin Smith, CB Chris Houston (ankle), CB Bill Bentley (shoulder), WR Titus Young, LB Stephen Tulloch (knee), DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (knee), RB Kevin Smith (ankle), DE Lawrence Jackson and DE Travis Lewis (quad) missed Tuesday's practice, and it wouldn't be surprising if they didn't play Thursday.
Burleson says Stafford inspired confidence: It's impossible to find a Lions offensive player who doesn't believe that Matthew Stafford is an unquestioned leader both in the locker room and on the field. When asked what Stafford does to inspire confidence and trust in his teammates, WR Nate Burleson cited Stafford's actions following the hand injury he suffered against the Raiders on Saturday night. When Stafford returned to the sidelines following an evaluation by Lions' trainers, he told the starting offense that the only reason he wasn't returning to action was that the injury occurred in a preseason game. “That showed us the toughness he has,” Burleson said. “His injury looked pretty nasty to me.”
The injury to Stafford's non-throwing hand may have looked nasty, but it hasn't hampered his ability to practice this week. Stafford took part in both Monday and Tuesday's workouts without wearing protective equipment.
Moore improving as camp draws to a close: One of the big decisions Detroit faces on roster deadline day will be whether to keep third QB Kellen Moore on the active roster, or cut him and attempt to sign him to the practice squad. While Schwartz didn't provide a definitive answer when asked if Detroit was planning to keep three quarterbacks, he did praise the rookie's effort in camp. “I think [Moore has] improved in all the games as far as command of our offense,” Schwartz said. "He's shown he's a smart player. He's done a good job not just in the preseason games; he's done a good job at camp. We thought a lot of him coming out of Boise (State) and he's shown the reason that he was so successful in college.”
Barnes excited to be in Detroit: CB Kevin Barnes, who was traded to the Lions Monday for a conditional draft pick, passed his physical Tuesday in time to participate in the Lions' morning workout. Barnes, a 2009 third-round pick, played in 29 games with the Redskins and made three interceptions.
Barnes was primarily a nickel DB in Washington, but he says he feels more comfortable as an outside DB. Barnes called his first experience with the Lions “a special day,” and said he appreciated the Redskins' organization giving him a chance to earn a spot on another team's roster instead of releasing him. "The reason for me possibly getting released was because [Washington wasn't] sure of how many corners they were going to keep this year," Barnes said. "They decided to go in a younger direction, and they felt like I was capable of playing in this league.”
Follow Lions reporter John Kreger on Twitter at @CBSSportsNFLDET and @JohnKreger.