It begs the question, will general manager Brad Holmes be bullish on this decision and keep Benson by default? Or is the GM looking at this situation with complete fairness? Last season, Holmes traded a 2022 fifth-round pick along with a seventh-round selection to secure Benson and a sixth-round pick in 2023 from the Denver Broncos.
During his first season with the organization, Benson was less than impressive but wiped the slate clean in 2022 and continues to push for a final roster spot. The Detroit Lions continued to overhaul their receiver room this offseason, turning what was considered a weakness last season into a strength.
Trinity Benson and Tom Kennedy continue to battle for a final roster spot with the Detroit Lions.
Both Benson and Kennedy are looking up at a solid group of receivers led by Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark, Josh Reynolds, Jameson Williams, Kalif Raymond, and Quintez Cephus. Williams will begin the year on the Injured List, opening up a spot for one of the aforementioned bubble players.
Regarding the depth of players on the roster, a final spot is usually decided on what said player can contribute on special teams. That is Kennedy's roadblock. Kennedy doesn't offer much upside in regards to special teams. He's not a returner, and although recently the Detroit Lions have experimented with Kennedy as a gunner on special teams, he's not the best option for that role.
Benson has experience as a returner and on special teams, but you can carve out a scenario where the Detroit Lions elect to keep Kennedy over Benson.
It all comes back to the first question asked. Will Holmes look at this situation through unbiased eyes? Kennedy led the NFL in receiving yards during the opening week of the preseason and followed it up this past Saturday, adding two touchdown receptions. Detroit's victory over the Colts ended a nine-game preseason losing streak. Some may consider that irrelevant, but creating a winning culture is important for this coaching staff. That needs to begin in the preseason with hopes of seeing it carry over into the regular season.
With Raymond penciled in as the first-team punt returner, you can make the case Detroit should keep the reliable possession pass-catcher in Kennedy over Benson. But Benson does provide more upside with his explosiveness on offense in a depth role.
Benson totaled 44 receiving yards Saturday, boosting his total to 68 yards on five receptions through two preseason games. Benson's 13.6 yards per reception is very impressive, along with his team-leading 28 yards after catch. Kennedy currently sits with 128 yards and two touchdowns on 13 grabs.
There is a chance both players begin the season on the active roster if the organization deems Cephus is not fully ready to contribute to start the season. Cephus is working his way back from a season-ending knee injury and just began to practice in full last week.
This will be an interesting competition to monitor heading into the final cutdown days.