The competition between Ryan Donahue and Ben Graham for the Lions punting duties had been too close to call until Thursday’s preseason finale against the Bills. Now it seems Graham’s strong performance Thursday night has won him the job.
The Lions are expected to release Donahue before tonight’s 9 p.m. deadline to trim the roster from 75 players to 53.
Graham averaged 45.3 yards on three punts Thursday punts and flipped field position on a 49-yarder that angled just out of bounds with the Lions pinned deep in their own territory late in the fourth quarter.
“It was a great punt,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said after the game. “Ben bailed us out. Ben had a great punt. We were gassed on special teams. Those guys played a lot of football in the second half. We lost a lot of guys in the second half and a lot of guys were playing every snap on defense or every snap on offense and covering every kick and we needed him to paint the sideline on a ball and he did a great job of it.”
Graham played seven games with the Lions last year after Donahue suffered a quad injury and averaged 44.1 yards per punt.
Donahue, who won a training camp battle with Nick Harris for the punting job last year, averaged 42.7 yards a punt in eight games with the Lions as a rookie. He averaged 38.7 yards per punt in 12 attempts this preseason.
The Lions have also announced the expected release of guard Pat Boyle, defensive end Ugo Chinasa, tight end Alex Gottlieb, wide receiver Nate Hughes, defensive tackle Edmon McClam, linebacker Carmen Messina, wide receiver Wallace Miles, defensive tackle Tracy Robertson, cornerback Ross Weaver, and tight end Austin Wells.
Additionally, ProFootballTalk sited a league sources in announcing Friday afternoon that cornerback Alphonso Smith will also be among the cuts.
The Lions traded tight end Dan Gronkoswki to the Broncos for Smith back in 2010.
Smith has had an inconsistent two seasons with the Lions. He looked great when he was intercepting eight passes over than span, but also earned a reputation as a gambler and was beat in coverage nearly as often.
That leaves 10 additional cuts for the Lions by tonight’s deadline.
Tags: Ben Graham
Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 10 Comments »