ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions have now been through a week of practice and while no spots have been won or lost on the roster yet, things are slowly starting to take shape.
So, too, is the Lions Mailbag -- running Sundays during the preseason. To ask a question for the Mailbag, make sure to use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter or email me at email@example.com.
Now, on to your questions.
— Mitch (@millenium_mitch) August 1, 2014
@mikerothstein: Unlikely at best. Considering the team signed Payton this week when they could have signed a free-agent cornerback, they are clearly looking at him as a wide receiver. Payton has a ways to go to really have a shot to make this team considering he is well behind a lot of the other receivers on the roster. If anything, he'd have an outside shot as a developmental project on the practice squad but tough to see him making any sort of impact otherwise. His size and strength are impressive, though.
— Zachary Warber (@KingWarbs) August 1, 2014
@mikerothstein: Right now might be a little bit early to give a definitive answer, but the early returns on James Ihedigbo at safety are pretty good. He won't wow anyone with his speed, but he's a smart, instinctual player who will be a consistent complement to Glover Quin. Plus, he knows what Teryl Austin likes and wants, so he'll be able to be an immediate leader and should give the younger corners assistance right away. Kyle Van Noy is a more interesting case because he'll likely depend on the week. If the Lions face a team with a lot of three-wide sets, he might not be on the field as much when the team goes nickel. Down the road, though, Van Noy should end up being a pretty impactful player for the Lions.
— Derek Mack (@Dmacali818) August 1, 2014
@mikerothstein: Derek, I expect every starter to be on some sort of snap limit during the preseason from Calvin Johnson to Golden Tate to Reggie Bush, Matthew Stafford and even Ndamukong Suh. The goal of the preseason is to get out of it healthy with your stars intact. As far as the regular season, in talking with Johnson and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, it would seem like they won't use Johnson every single play, but he'll still be out there the vast majority of the time. The reasoning behind that is to keep Johnson fresh and keep defenses off balance. It's a smart move, especially if Detroit believes it has enough other pieces to move the ball with him not in the game for a snap or two.
— Dan Welling (@spacecataz1663) July 31, 2014
@mikerothstein: Excellent use of the word dropsies. The Lions' issues there last season had a little bit to do with Stafford and a little bit to do with the talent level and hand strength of the receivers, running backs and tight ends. It's a combination there and something that should improve this season -- theoretically. While the addition of Golden Tate adds a sure-handed option who catches essentially everything, the Lions also lost one of their better hands receivers in Nate Burleson. Hands are also why Kevin Ogletree has pushed himself ahead of his competitors for the No. 3 receiver spot. Of the potential candidates, he has the best hands of the group.
Lions have to play NFC South and AFC East this year (plus Cards/Bucs). Which teams do they need to beat to make playoffs? #LionsMailbag
— Craig Gallagher (@Gallacticos87) July 31, 2014
@mikerothstein: Winning division games is the premium there because that will help get the Lions to the playoffs via a divisional title. Considering the insanity that is the NFC West, that is Detroit's best option. Winning the games at home against the NFC South and AFC East should be the biggest concern in those games, especially since Miami and Buffalo are the AFC East games. New Orleans will be tricky as a home game as well. If the Lions can knock off the New York Jets as well, that would be helpful. It's tough to really make a call here, though, because no preseason games have happened yet and so much can occur between now and Week 1. I'd say a 5-3 record at least against those two divisions would be extremely helpful for a playoff berth.