The days of finding players to plug the holes in the offensive line are nothing new for the Detroit Lions organization.
At the right tackle position, The Lions regime are hoping that Gosder Cherilus can return to the field from injury and work on some of the boneheaded mistakes of his past.
Jason Fox was brought in through the draft this year to be molded into the tackle of the future. His talent isn’t in question, but he will have to learn how to play the tempo of offense that is the NFL. There probably isn’t a real good chance for him to get any playing time this season.
Jeff Backus has been loved and hated in this city. Without a doubt he is locked in to start. He has the ability to be an NFL adequate lineman. He might be frustrating to fans, but he is what the Lions need to protect their investment behind center. Jim Schwartz and company have faith in him to be the stopper on the line. He was that guy in 2009. The real question is will he be the Backus of old or the same guy we saw last season.
Then there’s Jon Jansen.
A former University of Michigan product, Jansen started 153 games in ten years with the Washington Redskins. Last season, he returned home as a backup tackle for the Lions. Despite starting only two games last year, Jansen saw action in 11 games.
Now with Goster Cherilious on the rebound, he believes he is the talent that should be starting when the regular season opens. According to Killer Kowalski of MLive.com, his approach to winning that position is laid-back.
“I’m approaching it the same way I’ve approached every year that I’ve had,” the 34-year-old Jansen said. “I want to go out there and earn a spot. I want to be the best that I can be to make our team the best that it can be. If it’s to earn a starting spot, that’s my goal every year. I want to be on the field and I want to contribute.”
Jansen has enjoyed working with the first team during recent Organized Team Activity workouts. A lot of it has to do with the fact that Cherilus has been one of the most inconsistent tackles in the league. A lot of it also has to do with the fact that Cherilus is out with injury. The only question is: “Is there open competition for the one open tackle job?”
If you were to ask me, I would tend to lean toward yes. Jansen is past his prime. He doesn’t have the premiere tackle ability, but there is nothing more frustrating than a first and fiveteen after a 20 yard completion. The goal for the offense has to be getting the offense rolling at a consistent basis. The best way to do that might be an open competition. Either way, Jansen believes he still has some work to do.
“In the run game, I need to shore up my footwork a little bit and my hand placement. Those are the things I’m worried about. When I take care of those, playing time will take care of itself.”
He also believes that he has more to offer on the field than just the upcoming year.
“I’ve got this year and I’ve got more years,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and prove that I’m going to be a factor.”