DETROIT --- The preseason is officially over with the Buffalo Bills' 17-10 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
It was as ugly as you'd expect out of a fourth exhibition game full of second- and third-string players. Chances are, you've already seen this, um, pass. And kicker Dan Carpenter missed another kick. Soon, we'll dive into the 2015 regular season and Buffalo's Week One opponent, Indianapolis.
But first, the team needs to get down to 53 players. Who helped themselves Thursday night?
Here are a handful...
WR Dezmin Lewis: The seventh-rounder played with more physicality and had the offense's best play of the day, a 28-yard completion on a post route. It'll still be difficult for him to crack the 53-man roster, but Lewis definitely showed vast improvement the last two weeks and 6-foot-4 players with his athleticism aren't in high supply. Buffalo may look to keep him on the practice squad and see if he's ready to contribute in 2016. The Central Arkansas project is worth developing in some capacity.
RB Bryce Brown: It was somewhat surprising to see Brown handle the ball as much as he did. Is he really in danger of getting cut? Or do the Bills simply want Brown to get up to speed after missing so much time with a hamstring injury? Either way, Brown didn't fumble (noteworthy) and was impressive running behind the shaky No. 2 offensive line, exploding off right tackle for one 17-yarder and turning one 5-yard loss into a 6-yard gain. Brown let a pair of massive defensive linemen sweep by him after taking the draw. In two games, he had 89 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
CB Ron Brooks: He was the team's best cornerback Thursday night. Not only was Brooks there to catch and return an interception for an 81-yard touchdown, he seemed to be a step ahead of the offense all night. The corner closed fast on short passes, was unafraid vs. the run and wasn't beat vs. the pass. His roster spot isn't in jeopardy, rather the Bills probably don't mind having someone with Brooks' experience on deck with rookie Ronald Darby struggling so far. Brooks' ability to play inside and outside helps.
"We watched plenty of film on him and we kind of knew what was going to happen or what they like to do in their down and distance and out of that look," Brooks said of the pick, "but (Merrill Noel) made a great play, stayed with it until the end and was able to get his hand in there and get the ball out. I just so happened to be in the right place at the right time.
"Green grass right away. I couldn't play around with it. I just got it and took it."
ILB A.J. Tarpley: Buffalo needs a back-up inside linebacker to step up with Ty Powell (torn ACL) out for the season and rookie Tony Steward recovering from a MCL injury. Tarpley had his best game of the preseason at Detroit with eight solo tackles (two for loss). On one run blitz, he took on 310-pounder Joe Madsen and powered through to tackle Zach Zenner a yard behind the line of scrimmage. Tarpley looks like a safe bet to make the team.
DE/OLB Quentin Groves/IK Enemkpali: Sometimes, all it takes is one jarring hit to catch the coaches' eyes and earn a roster spot. Both of these back-up pass rushers had those in Detroit, especially the veteran Groves. He lit up Quandre Diggs on a kick return at the 14-yard line with a brutal right shoulder. Enemkpali, meanwhile, sandwiched quarterback Kellen Moore with cornerback Merrill Noel.
This is Grove's sixth team in eight seasons. He had 18 tackles and one sack last year in Tennessee. Now, like everyone, he waits.