Ask me which two position groups need to step up most for the Lions to take another step forward in 2012 and I would tell you the secondary and offensive line. It is extremely early in the process but there are positive reports coming out of Detroit Lions OTAs for both.
Cornerback Aaron Berry is specifically called out in Anwar Richardson’s report on mlive.com as a guy that is turning heads. It’s been widely assumed that he is the front-runner to start opposite Chris Houston but that was largely based on the fact that he’s seen the most playing time out of all the candidates. The group of corners has felt like more of a play on quantity than quality but Berry could change that while the crop of rookies wait their time and develop. It would be great news for the Lions if Berry can continue to impress to the point that he leaves little doubt about his spot as a starter.
The other player that is getting a lot of pub out of OTAs is rookie offensive lineman Riley Reiff. From Richardson’s report:
Coaches are really high on Riley Reiff. He may not have a lot of first-team reps, but Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linenan said he is very happy with Reiff’s progress. Time will tell if Reiff can steal playing time from Jeff Backus or Gosder Cherilus, but he will be in the mix.
Whether or not Reiff actually unseats one of the incumbents is almost irrelevant in year one based on the “iron sharpens iron” analogy. It’s too early to tell if Reiff will make an impact for the Lions in 2012 but there is no reason to doubt that he will turn in to exactly what they expect him to be.