Nov 22, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Ryan Broyles (84) is chased by Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson (25) and defensive back Quintin Demps (27) in the second quarter of the Thanksgiving day game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
While the rest of the world worries about Ndamukong Suh’s loyalty, writes about the expected development of Matthew Stafford and ponders what the future might hold for tight end Eric Ebron, quietly, there are five other stories worth talking about as the offseason continues just before summer.
Most involve players and people few will be thinking about in the weeks ahead that are no less important than some of the other vital talking points tossed around.
1. Will Ryan Broyles Finally Stay On The Field? Offseason additions of Golden Tate, Ebron and T.J. Jones along with an improved Corey Fuller will shift some of the light away from Broyles, but he is no less important to the health of Detroit’s offense in 2014. In a perfect world, Broyles shakes off his knee troubles, stays healthy and is a major contributor in the role that Nate Burleson vacated. That was the same hope last year, though, and injury misfortune struck again. Broyles is likely starting to stare down now or never time, and will have to have a fantastic bounce back season.
2. Will Detroit’s Modest Additions At Safety Work? The Lions didn’t select a safety anywhere in May’s draft, instead opting to add veteran James Ihedigbo in free agency and pick up a few undrafted free agents in Gabe Lynn and Jerome Couplin. Will this be enough depth for a team which saw some terrible trouble last season at the position and is going without Louis Delmas, who was a staple? Glover Quin is stable, but beyond that, the Lions are hoping that Ihedigbo can stick and they can perhaps develop one of Lynn or Couplin in the year ahead.
3. Can Nick Fairley Finally Get Motivated? The Lions added defensive tackle Caraun Reid in the draft, but more than his emergence, the defense badly needs Fairley to play at a consistent, Pro-Bowl level first. Far too often Fairley takes games off, factoring in some and not others. For someone playing next to the space-eating Suh and edge terror Ziggy Ansah, that’s not good enough. With the Lions considering Fairley’s option in the future, it will be important for him to have a good season.
4. Is Dan Orlovsky Ready To Be A Featured Backup? Detroit lost Shaun Hill and is banking on a rebound year from Stafford, along with Orlovsky being the answer in Stafford’s possible absence. Is that a good idea, or will the Lions have to depend on Kellen Moore or rookie James Franklin emerging and making an impact? The idea, of course, is for Stafford to play a whole season with none of the backups figuring in, but considering the physicality of the NFL, it’s never wise to say never as it relates to possibly seeing Orlovsky on the field. He has previous experience with Jim Caldwell in Indianapolis, but could he capably lead Detroit’s offense if need be?
5. Can Jim Caldwell Be Authoritative Enough? During Caldwell’s introductory press conference, he used the term “velvet wrapped in steel” to describe how he wanted his players to interact in the community but act on the field. Similarly, Caldwell himself seems like that type of leader. Coming on the heels of the hands-off Jim Schwartz, though, Caldwell might have to be a bit more more steel than velvet with Detroit’s locker room. Can he strike the proper chord between discipline and respect that Schwartz was never able to find? Such a combination itself could make the biggest difference in the Lions becoming a playoff team and finally getting over the hump.