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Morning Roar: Raiola and his future

DETROIT -- Dominic Raiola knows he is closer to the end than the beginning now. Being in his mid-30s, the final seasons for the Detroit Lions center are coming.

It’s why he was not surprised earlier this month when the team drafted his probable eventual replacement, Travis Swanson, in the third round.

“I’m getting old, man,” Raiola said following an appearance at the MGM Grand on Monday night. “I feel more respected by this, just 'cause they know that it’s going to take some time. They said it’s going to take some time to get somebody ready and, hey, let’s go out and play and work together and get him ready.

“I’m going to be 36 years old.”

Part of the reasoning for Raiola's comfort in this -- or supposed comfort -- is what would happen if he were injured. The Lions don’t have another true center on the roster and didn’t carry one a season ago. Injuries, though, have not been an issue for the former second-round pick in his career.

He has missed four career games -- all in 2008 -- and played in 205 career games, including the team's 2011 playoff appearance.

Swanson can play guard as well while he apprentices under Raiola at center, giving Detroit a swing interior lineman that it can invest in for the future either at left guard as a replacement for Rob Sims or as Raiola's eventual successor.

After all, when Raiola was drafted out of Nebraska in 2001, he didn't know how long he would end up playing. Then, he said, after six or seven years, he wanted to reach 10. Now in his 14th season with the Lions, he wants to reach at least Year No. 15 in the NFL.

Beyond that, he is not sure. Like a lot of players nearing the end of their time in the NFL, he wants to win. Especially in Detroit, where he has played on one playoff team his entire career.

“I know I’ve got two [years left],” Raiola said. “But you never know what the season brings and the rigors of the season. So two, I could maybe go three.

“I just want to enjoy some years at the end. That’s what I’m looking forward to and I think [Lions head coach Jim Caldwell] this is the guy to do it.”

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