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Travis Swanson ready to compete for starting center job

DETROIT – It was assumed for a little while that once the Detroit Lions decided to not re-sign Dominic Raiola this offseason that Travis Swanson was the de facto center.

Don’t tell that to Swanson. He’s not buying it – and in recent weeks, it has made more sense for him not to. During the first night of the draft, the Lions traded for veteran interior lineman Manny Ramirez. Considering Larry Warford and 2015 first-round pick Laken Tomlinson are expected to man the guard spots, that means Ramirez is likely competing with Swanson for a starting spot on the offensive line.

“This is something that you have to earn,” Swanson said. “You can’t ever assume that they just let this guy go and now technically it’s mine. It’s not. To me, regardless, if I do nothing but first-team reps from here until whenever it is or even if they tell me, ‘You’re the guy,’ it’s not something of you can get in the mindset of you’re the guy until you actually earn it.

“I know a lot of people say, well, Dom left so he’s now the guy. Even if that is the case, you have to think as if you’re not.”

Swanson said that is not different than the approach he took during his college career at Arkansas and then during his rookie season with the Lions, when he became the primary backup to all three interior line spots. He eventually started games at both center and right guard last season for the Lions when Raiola was suspended and Warford was injured.

According to Pro Football Focus, Swanson gave up 11 quarterback hurries and one sack in 366 snaps. Last season, he had a feeling he would sit, though. The Lions had experienced veterans back at left guard and center. And Swanson was still trying to understand everything that comes with being an NFL player.

This year, his biggest obstacle was free time during the offseason – although that’ll end with OTAs starting next week.