These five Detroit Lions players are clearly entering a make-or-break season in 2023.
The Detroit Lions, for the first time in recent memory, are entering a season with real expectations. The NFC North appears to be there for the taking, with a reversal of last year's good fortune (Minnesota Vikings), a transition at quarterback (Green Bay Packers) and being who they are (Chicago Bears) making the Lions the betting favorites to win the division in 2023.
It's fair to say Dan Campbell and his coaching staff won't allow players to hear the outside noise, and there are enough veteran leaders around to keep that sentiment on track in the locker room.
But there are some Lions players who are entering a critical season in their career this year, with varied individual circumstances driving that. Training camp will drive plenty of competition at some spots, with talented depth now a good problem the team has thanks to a quick build by general manager Brad Holmes.
With that, here are five Lions players who are entering a make-or-break season in 2023.
5 Detroit Lions players who are clearly entering a make-or-break season in 2023
5. LB Derrick Barnes
Barnes got first-team reps during OTAs, as Malcolm Rodriguez dealt with an injury and rookie Jack Campbell has to earn his spot with the starters. It was an important opportunity for him, as he prepares to battle for a prominent role (a starting job?) in training camp.
Barnes has never quite put it together consistently in his first two seasons, due in part to not having a ton of opportunity with less than 800 career defensive snaps. But he has shown some flashes.
Barnes has been bumped down the linebacker pecking order for the Lions in each of the last two drafts. So this is absolutely a critical year for him, to either earn a big opportunity in camp or answer the door loudly if said opportunity knocks.