With training camp quickly approaching, the Detroit Lions are winding down their last OTA’s before mini- camp begins. This season is extremely interesting for this Lions and yet with very little to take from OTA’s, there are some things we can learn.
#10. Reggie Bush likes to talk.
With the signing of running back Reggie Bush, there is no doubt that the Lions offense has added a new dimension and versatility. But with new players come new quotes. For years Lions players have talked Super Bowl, playoff guarantees and mostly non-sense. This year is no different. Bush began by saying he came to Detroit to win a championship; he must not know the history of the organization. Then talked about how the offense should be high powered. “Honestly, I believe there’s no excuse for us not to have the No. 1-ranked offense. We have all the right pieces and the necessary players here to be the top offense in the league. No excuse,” Bush said. With all the preseason talking, it will be interesting to see if Bush can back it up.
#9. Louis Delmas is hurt….still.
After resigning safety Louis Delmas to a contract in the offseason, he is expected to be a big part of the Lion defense. Delmas has missed all of OTA’s up to this point and we can only assume he is elsewhere rehabbing an undisclosed injury. Though the Lions do not have to give information about injured players in the offseason, we can only speculate that it’s related to last year’s injuries. "The biggest thing with Lou is going to be his health, and that is what he's working on right now." Coach Jim Schwartz said. The Lions defense needs Delmas and fans can only hope he is ready before training camp.
#8. Jeff Backus is back! Sort of.
Recently retired offensive tackle Jeff Backus is back in the Honolulu blue and silver. I wouldn’t go as far as to say Backus is back coaching with the team, but he is helping out offense line coaches Jeremiah Washburn and first year assistant Terry Heffernan with the young lineman. This year’s line is inexperienced so the veteran presence can certainly help out with receptive young players. “They don’t have any veteran offensive tackles in the room right now. I still live in the area and he just asked me, when I have time, to come in and do what I’ve always done” Backus said. This should benefit this young Lions offense line.
#7. Patrick Edwards is the answer?
Second year undrafted free agent wide receiver Patrick Edwards can be a playmaker, according to Nate Burleson. Edwards is a small but speedy wide receiver, standing at just 5’9. He impressed in last years training camp and was looking to make the 2012 roster until he under performed and tweaked his hamstring. He's just a guy who needs to prove he can stay healthy and consistent with his play, and I guarantee he will be a big-time playmaker for us this year” Burleson said. If Burleson is correct, than the Lions may have found the compliment to Calvin Johnson that they desperately need.
#6. Who is playing Cornerback?
The Lions didn’t go as hard after a cornerback as one might have had expected in the offseason. After passing on Alabama rookie Dee Millner and only signing one veteran corner (Chris Houston-their own) the Lions are still looking for that solid second corner. Second year player Bill Bentley just may be the guy. After being named starter in 2012, he injured his shoulder and had to end his season early. Now that he is back on the field, he wants to win his spot back. "I feel like I have to give more effort than I did last year after being on top and going to the bottom," Bentley said. This year with the size movement at the position, there should be some good old fashion competition.
#5. Lions Linebackers will be feeling the pressure in 2013.
This season the Lions will be showing an attack first mentality. With speed on the edges and expected pressure from D-Line duo Nick Fairley and Ndomukong Suh, the linebackers will be called upon often. DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch will be the leaders of the linebacking core and Ashlee Palmer, Tahir Whitehead and Travis Lewis are fighting for the last spot. The backers will be leaned on heavily this year to read and react to their attacking lineman. This year the defense will go how the linebackers go.
#4. The offense line is now hiring.
There was no one this offseason that didn’t know the Lions needed help upfront. The for mentioned Jeff Backus retired, the top three tackles in the draft were selected before pick five and right tackle Gosder Cherilus signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Now it is up to second year tackle Riley Reiff, center Dominic Riola and guard Rob Sims to anchor Stafford’s protectors. The Lions have begun to address the vacancies though. They drafted rookie guard Larry Worford, who has the tools to become a stud and they signed former Tennessee guard Jake Scott. Don’t expect for things to change anytime soon. They will be working out and signing free agents until camp begins.
#3. Ziggy Ansah is a quick learner.
If there is one glaring thing coming from Lions camp, its that Ansah is picking things up quickly. Newly found leader Ndomukong Suh is mentoring the young defensive end. This could be a great thing for the raw talent. Though Suh is infamous for being overly aggressive on Sundays, its nothing that Lions defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham wouldn’t like. "He's obviously running with the ones in and out. It's having that good communication. So with you seeing me speak up, we're all just communicating and having a good time and understanding where we're supposed to be" Suh said. The defensive line needs to be a strength this year if this defense stands a chance against the offenses of the NFC North.
#2. The defensive line is big.
Yes, I said the defensive line is big, and so is every other line in the NFL. But not every defensive line has the size and athleticism that the defensive ends have on the Lions. Michigan native and newly signed defensive end Jason Jones compared the defensive line to a basketball team. The high and length of Jones, Ansah, Devin Taylor and Willie Young will block passing lanes and get around offensive tackles. "From a defensive standpoint, we don't read, we just attack," said Ansah. This will be the leg the Lions defense stands on this year. It will be the motor that makes the motor city kittys go.
#1. Mayhew and Schwartz have to get it done.
Its not often that anyone from the Ford family talks about their toy, the Detroit Lions. When they do it is usually important. This year during OTAs, Bill Ford Junior made some comments that were very interesting. Aside from praising some of the talented players on the team, and touting their young franchise quarterback, what wasn’t said was what was more important from the comments. When asked about the expectations for Jim Schwartz this season, Ford Jr. dodged the question a bit. “I’m not going to address that at this point,” Ford said. There is no doubt that this is a franchise changing season for the Lions and it all starts at the top.