Detroit Lions vs. Buffalo Bills: Top 5 Players To Watch

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Aug 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) runs the ball away from Detroit Lions defensive end George Johnson (68) during the third quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

3. George Johnson, DE

George Johnson signed with the Lions in April as almost a veteran afterthought on the defensive line. He had not been much of a contributor yet in the NFL and the Lions had signed another defensive end earlier in free agency and then also would end up drafting one in May.

So George Johnson’s chances of making Detroit’s roster seemed minimal at best.

Then came Ezekiel Ansah‘s recovery from shoulder surgery. Ansah’s absence provided Johnson with the opportunity to show the Lions why he deserves to be a member of their squad, and he has taken full advantage.

By training camp, he started running with the Lions’ first-team defensive line as Ansah continued to rehab. Now, with final roster cuts less than a week away, Johnson might end up sticking on the final roster as the team’s fourth defensive end.

"“George has quickness, he has explosion, he’s long, he’s linear,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “I think he’s really just scratching the surface of where he is because he changed his body type. He was much heavier, he’s trimmed down and I think he’s at his natural weight now. “We’re excited about it. As a matter of fact, Jim Washburn from the onset when he saw him rush the passer, even in non-padded days, thought he could be pretty special.”"

While Ansah will surely replace him in the lineup by the start of the regular season, and the combination of Jason Jones and Devin Taylor will likely start over him on the opposite side.

But after 11 games played over his first four NFL seasons, making the 53-man roster as a situational defensive end would be pretty special for Johnson.