Detroit Lions Preseason Opener: Positions to Watch
Jul 30, 2013; Allen Park, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Chaz Schilens (19) catches a pass during training camp at Detroit Lions training facility. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
It’s hard to believe football season is finally upon us, but it couldn’t have come soon enough. After a complete overhaul on the offensive line and defense, the Lions look to be much more competitive this season.
Although the starting units don’t play much in the first preseason game, there are still many reasons to watch as rookies and new members of the roster are suiting up in a Lions uniform for the first time and others are battling out the rights for a starting job. If you have a hard time finding a reason to watch the preseason, here are a few things to watch for Friday night when the Lions take on the Jets at Ford Field.
It’s time to see that overhauled defensive line in action. Out are Kyle Vanden Bosh and Cliff Avril, in are Jason Jones and fifth overall pick Ziggy Ansah. Even if Ansah only plays a series or two, it will be nice to see him in a Lions jersey for the first time.
The Lions will start Ron Bartell and Chris Houston at the corner positions, but every Lions fan will be eager to see Darius Slay when he takes the field, who many presume will be the week one starter. Slay isn’t the only player to look forward to seeing play however, the mega-talented Chris Greenwood, who has all the tools to be an elite corner, but a steep learning curve because he played division III football, is a player that will be very interesting to watch later in preseason as he heals from a hamstring injury.
A starter has not yet been named for the vacant outside linebacker position and whoever emerges as the preseason week one starter may not emerge as the regular season starter as the Lions have given Tahir Whitehead, Travis Lewis and Ashlee Palmer equal first team reps. Will someone shine through in preseason play?
It will be nice to see Matthew Stafford back on the field, but I don’t want to see him for more than one series. I don’t even want to see much of second string quarterback Shaun Hill. What I want to see is Kellen Moore and Thaddeus Lewis duke it out for a roster spot. We’ve heard all offseason about the improvement of Moore‘s arm and Lewis is fun to watch because of his athletic ability. All in all, the Lions may not even keep a third quarterback on the roster, but the battle for third string quarterback should be a fun storyline for the Lions’ preseason.
Everybody wants to see Reggie Bush in a Lions jersey for the first time. That will be a sight to see, but we have a pretty good idea of what he will bring. Fans should hope he sees just one or two series and be more interested in whether or not Mikel Leshoure has that second gear that he was missing last season. It would be nice to see him hit the open field on a big gain.
Reports have indicated that Patrick Edwards could have a break-out season in 2013, after just missing the final 53-man roster a season ago. Given he’s likely the fourth wide receiver on the roster, he should receive enough playing time to impact the first half of Friday’s game.
Will Chaz Schilens emerge as the fifth receiver on the roster? He’s got the size and speed to be the deep threat the Lions have coveted to play opposite of Calvin Johnson.
I’ve seen enough youtube videos on Joseph Fauria and read enough articles about the spectacular catches he makes in tight coverage that I can hardly wait to see him play. The Lions haven’t kept four tight ends on the roster in the past so he will have to leave enough of an impression on the coaching staff to convince them to keep him on the final 53-man roster. The easiest way to do that is to use his 6’7 1/2 frame to catch passes not many others can and be a reliable red-zone target.
Dylan Gandy, Jason Fox, Larry Warford, and Corey Hillard will all be players to watch for along the offensive line. Starting jobs at right tackle and right guard aren’t written in stone so expect each players’ “A” game in the preseason.