5 Under-the-Radar Detroit Lions to Watch against Arizona

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LaAdrian Waddle, OT

Jul 27, 2013; Allen Park, MI, USA; Detroit Lions offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle (66) during training camp at the Detroit Lions training facility. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Remember the name LaAdrian Waddle. It won’t be this week, and maybe not even this year, but this is a guy who can absolutely be a starter for the Lions in the near future.

Waddle came to Lions’ training camp as an undrafted free agent, and was so good that he not only earned a roster spot, but also inserted himself in the discussion for starters at right tackle. Had he been a mid-round pick, he might even have had a shot at winning it. But as it were, Waddle is a UDFA with a lot to prove.

Of course, the reason he’s a player to watch this week is because with the injury to Fox, Waddle is likely to see some limited time on the field. He was inactive for the game last week, but is now projected to be the sixth offensive lineman, at least according to the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. That means he’s in on short-yardage plays and maybe some special teams.

This is just one step on a long road to Waddle proving himself at the NFL level, of course. Don’t expect him to be named the starter at random this year—the Lions value offensive line consistency too much to arbitrarily make a chance like that without something catastrophic happening first.

However, if Waddle passes this test, look for him to see more and more action. The Lions might be able to get him enough time this season to make Fox and Hilliard both expendable in next year’s free agency.