Are you ready for some football
Well, not really. But I AM getting there.
The Detroit Lions Blog has an early look at position battles within the Lions training camp. Let's take a quick look at what he wrote.
He begins by noting what I think is clear to all Lions fans. The QB position is going to at the top of everyone's mind, all year. Everytime Joey throws an INT, the cameras will look to Garcia for a reaction. And so will we all.
From the blog.
If there is one position on the entire Lion's roster which MUST perform at a higher level this upcoming season it will be starting Quarterback. As far as I can tell, it is Joey's job to lose.I agree on both counts. I believe Joey will prove himself to be a good NFL QB this year--not a great one, but a good one. I think we will see the person we thought we drafted. There is nowhere to hide, and I won't defend him if he falters. There is plenty of offensive talent (maybe too much) on this club.
The Lions feature a lot of quality young linebackers with the return of Boss Bailey from injury and the valuable experience obtained by 2nd year pros Alex Smith and Teddy Lehman. Add rookie Johnathan Goddard to the mix, and the Lions have a lot of options. It would appear, that Bailey will man the Strongside LB position, Earl Holmes the Middle LB, and James "Dirty" Davis the Weakside LB. The wild card is will Teddy Lehman have gained enough upper body strength and toughness at the point of contact to move into the middle or will he and "Dirty" Davis battle for the starting weakside position? Holmes is aging and both he and Lehman are liabilities on passing downs. Ultimately, I believe that Lehman will be forced to the middle and is probably a year away from the assuming that job.I don't think Jonathan Goddard is going to hang with the club, but I could be wrong. I don't think he's a special teams type guy, and I just wasn't that impressed with him in college. And its not because he went to Marshall--I rooted for Chris Spielman, and he went to Ohio State.
Millen on WDFN seemed to be saying the other day that he thought Lehman could play SAM, but I think that might have been spin. I think he will push Davis at WILL, and with Bailey and Holmes entrenched at the other positions. I'd like to see Lehman be the MLB of the future, but I'm not convinced. Its good to have backers that are good against the run, but they have to defend the past.
The secondary battle will be intriguing. The Lions have a lot of capable bodies with undetermined roles thus far. It appears one corner will be helmed by Dre Bly and that the starting Strong Safety will be Kenoy Kennedy. Fernando Bryant was a disappointment last season and the Lions have young veteran corners in Chris Cash and Andre Goodman who could challenge for playing time. The Free Safety position would appear to be Terrence Holt's to lose. The Lions recently acquired R.W. McQuarters who could have a major impact upon who starts at Free Safety and the CB opposite of Bly. McQuarter's most likely will be best utilized as a nickel back yet if Holt or Bryant should falter McQuarters is a proven commodity at either position.Well, I should hope that the FS job is Holt's to lose. I don't know what he did to get on the club's shit list, but he should be the one. I like him, I always have, and I think he's going to be a good one. Bryant wasn't healthy last year, so I haven't given up hope for him. I still see Cash and Goodman in reserve roles--their veterans, but on a better team, they might not ever have become veterans. I'm not sure Keith Smith isn't our best future CB. McQuarters is interesting. I read in Street and Smith's that Kennedy is an "in the box" safety, not a coverage safety, so you might well see McQuarters in passing downs.
And through it all, Matt Millen has a diagnosible interest in Ty Law.
Going deeper into the roster charts, Defensive End and Tight End both could offer some surprises. Kalimba Edwards has been a disappointment as an edge rusher and Bill Swancutt could press Edwards for a roster spot. It's Edwards's job to lose but Swancutt will not go down easily. At Tight End, Casey FitzSimmons has inconsistently exhibited sure hands and impressive athleticism. In early mini-camps, Free Agent rookie Tight End Jason Randall from Michigan State drew a lot of praise and FitzSimmons by no means has no lock on the backup Tight End position.My guess is both Edwards and Swancutt make the roster, but I won't shed any teams if Kalimba goes. I like the IDEA of Casey FitzSimmons, but I like the idea of making the playoffs more, so if Randall gets the job done, that's fine. I don't think Casey has the position locked down, but I do expect him to make the club.
One last battle to observe will be at backup running back. Kevin Jones is the undeniable starter. Shawn Bryson serves the duel role of 3rd down back and potential fill-in should Jones get injured or need a rest. The other running back will come down to Artose Pinner who the Lions had high hopes for and has done little impress in his limited opportunities. In the offseason the team acquired Jamel White. White has done well in limited opportunities with Cleveland but is a longshot to make the roster. That being said, White could be a valuable receiving back and has had some exposure to the West Coast Offense in Tampa Bay. Pinner would appear to have an edge but must prove that he can help on 3rd downs to keep a roster spot.I guess I disagree here. I think its White's job to lose, and the Lions are ready to cut bait on Pinner. White is exactly the kind of guy the Niners often had on the bench for third downs.
The least publicized and quite possibly most important roster battle will be which linemen will emerge as the starting right offensive tackle? Victor Rogers, Kelly Butler and Kyle Kosier will all have opportunities to win the position. Many feel that Kosier is best used as an utility linemen but if neither Rogers or Butler prove capable he would appear to be the right man for the job with his valuable game time experience.Ah, the comment of a true fan. This is the vital one. Our line play simply has to be better for us to compete. I haven't seen enough of Rogers to know what he has, and Butler is still Green, so my guess is Kosier grabs this spot, with Rogers and Butler coming off the bench.
Great post, really got the juices flowing...