Lions to keep 6 linebackers
Lions president Matt Millen told his linebackers earlier this week that the team only plans to keep six backers when it settles its 53-man roster Saturday. That means, assuming the Lions follow the rule of 25 25 offensive players, 25 defensive players and three special teamers the final defensive roster spot will go to a ninth man in the secondary.
Already, the Lions look poised to keep 10 defensive linemen, a position of great depth. If seventh-round pick Landon Cohen is the odd man out, he'll land a spot on the practice squad (if he's not claimed by another team).
At linebacker, only starters Ernie Sims, Paris Lenon and Alex Lewis and second-round pick Jordon Dizon are guaranteed roster spots. Buster Davis, currently running second at middle linebacker, should make the team, too, but that would leave either Sims on the weak side or Lewis on the strong side without a true backup. If the Lions keep three middle linebackers, Dizon is a candidate to move outside to improve his chances of getting on the field.
Gilbert Gardner is the most versatile of the Lions' remaining linebackers, having played both strong and weak side in Indianapolis. Gardner and Anthony Cannon have been alternating as Sims' backup throughout the preseason, while Leon Joe has shown flashes of playmaking ability on the strong side. Cannon made his mark on special teams the last two years, but Millen indicated in his meeting that only five linebackers are likely to dress on gameday.
Cases can be made for safety Greg Blue and cornerbacks Dovonte Edwards and Ramzee Robinson as the ninth defensive back. I'd give the edge to Blue for now for reasons I've already explained, but what happens in Buffalo could be the deciding factor.