ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions have their third -- and final -- open organized team activity Wednesday morning.
After that comes mandatory minicamp next week and then one last offseason break before training camp starts up in August. Having watched the past two open OTAs, here are some issues and trends I’ll be watching for during the third OTA.
1. Do any more rookies see first-team reps? The Lions have worked in quite a few rookies early on this year with the presumptive starters, including nickel cornerback Quandre Diggs, left guard Laken Tomlinson, fullback Michael Burton and halfback Ameer Abdullah. Some of this -- particularly with Abdullah and Diggs -- is because of other players sitting out all or part of the OTA practices. But with four of the seven drafted rookies already getting that kind of work, watch to see if those reps increase now that they have had a couple of weeks to participate with everyone else.
2. Anyone coming back? The Lions have had a bunch of starters bounce in and out of OTA practices. The Lions announced Calvin Johnson returned Monday after missing last week’s open OTA and Haloti Ngata missed last week’s open OTA as well. What I’m talking about, though, are the mass of injured players who have at least skipped team drills. This includes linebackers DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch, tight end Brandon Pettigrew and nickel cornerbacks Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson. Of all those players, those reps might be most valuable for Bentley and Lawson, who are in a very real, potentially very tight competition with veteran Josh Wilson and rookie Quandre Diggs for the slot cornerback spot.
3. What are the receivers doing? Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate are givens, but after a couple of weeks in the offense, seeing how the receiver rotation looks will be important for this Detroit team. With the caveat that it is still the offseason -- Kevin Ogletree was praised at this time last year, for instance -- there are a lot of receivers to shake out here and a positive OTA/minicamp impression could at least help a little bit come August. Lance Moore, the veteran signed last month, has been one of the more impressive receivers fighting for that No. 3 role.
4. That continued quarterback competition: I mentioned it last week as well, but with Kellen Moore now receiving the No. 2 reps the past two open OTAs, he appears to be in a decent position. Dan Orlovsky still provides more of a veteran presence than Moore since Moore has yet to dress for a regular-season NFL game. Those are probably still Detroit’s three quarterbacks this season since Anthony Boone has not done much in very limited reps, but this is going to be one of the more intriguing competitions the next few months.
5. The offensive line chemistry: It’s tough to really get much of a grasp of any line play or the run game in May and June without full pads or hitting, but the communication is a key aspect here. So is the camaraderie and the overall comfort level the tackles have with the guards, the guards with the center and so on. Those are the things that can develop during offseason workouts and during camp. The good example here with the Lions is Larry Warford and LaAdrian Waddle. They came in together in 2013. They practiced together a bunch early in their careers. They both believe those shared experiences have helped them when they spent parts of the past two seasons lined up next to each other in games.