Detroit Lions: New starters in Motown face an uphill battle

Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions will have several new starters. How will the stunted offseason impact them?

Every NFL team experiences change in the offseason. But coming off another disappointing season, and posting a 3-12-1 record in 2019, the Detroit Lions figured to experience more than most. And the fact is fans of the Motor City will be seeing several new faces once the regular season kicks off for the Pride.

The Lions opted to part ways with several of their former starters this offseason. Names like left tackle Rick Wagner, cornerback Darius Slay, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, left guard Graham Glasgow, linebacker Devon Kennard, defensive tackle Damon Harrison, safety Tavon Wilson, and cornerback Rashaan Melvin all played significant roles for Detroit in 2019. And are all no longer on the team.

That means the Lions will have several new starters they must prepare to take those snaps in 2020. And their offseason training program has been stunted by a worldwide pandemic that has made the already difficult task even tougher.

It’s June and NFL coaching staffs are just now being allowed back into their team facilities. In the meantime, offseason training programs have all been virtual. And that’s certainly a disadvantage for anyone new to the Lions’ roster including both incoming rookies and free-agent veterans alike.

ALSO READ: Detroit Lions biggest question mark is Matt Patricia’s defense

What’s most concerning for the Lions is the number of new starters the team projects to field in Week One. Along the offensive line, the departures of Wagner and Graham mean their replacements must get up to speed quickly in order to protect franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Entering his 12th NFL season, the 32-year old Stafford is coming off an injury-plagued year where he was forced to miss eight games, essentially sinking the season. With a major shift taking place along the right side of the offensive line, keeping the veteran quarterback protected through this change is worrisome.

New starters on Detroit Lions’ defense face an uphill battle this summer

But the bigger concern might be the number of new faces appearing on the defense. By our count, there could be as many as six new starters on that side of the ball to begin the regular season.

Linebackers Jamie Collins and Reggie Ragland, defensive tackles Danny Shelton and Nick Williams, rookie defensive end Julian Okwara, cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Jeff Okudah, and safety Duron Harmon could all see significant playing time despite not having been on the roster last year.

Next. Detroit Lions - 5 best individual offensive seasons since 2010. dark

The Detroit Lions coaching staff has a monumental task ahead of them. Not only has Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford announced the expectation of this team becoming playoff contenders in 2020, but they’ll have to do so without the benefit of a normal offseason training program. And the fact the Lions decided to make so many roster changes at key positions this offseason has those new players facing a stiff learning curve this summer.