<
>

Linebacker is a deep group on Detroit Lions' 53-man roster

DeAndre Levy had 65 more tackles than the next best Lions defender last season. Greg Shamus/Getty Images

Here’s a player-by-player look at the Detroit Lions' 53-man roster:

QUARTERBACK (2)

Matthew Stafford: Entering his seventh season, Stafford is coming off one of his strongest preseasons and should be more comfortable in Joe Lombardi’s offensive scheme.

Dan Orlovsky: He’s the experienced backup to Stafford, but the Lions hope he doesn’t see a snap all season.

RUNNING BACK (4)

Joique Bell: He’s coming off knee and Achilles injuries and will be the team’s featured back to start the season after rushing for 860 yards last year.

Ameer Abdullah: The rookie will be, at worst, a change-of-pace back. At best, he siphons carries from Bell immediately.

Theo Riddick: He’s likely destined for a two-minute-drill, third-down role again as a receiver out of the backfield.

Zach Zenner: He had the hype in the preseason but he’s likely not going to see a ton of work Sundays.

FULLBACK (1)

Michael Burton: The fifth-round pick won the job and will be primarily a blocker and special-teams guy.

WIDE RECEIVER (5)

Calvin Johnson: The Lions are hoping for a healthy 2015 and a return to typical form from Johnson, the game’s best receiver when he’s healthy.

Golden Tate: Coming off a career year, he’s likely the best No. 2 receiver in the NFL and could have a second straight 1,000-yard season.

Corey Fuller: The outside receiver might not get a ton of work, but he’s a stretch option for the Lions.

Lance Moore: Possibly the team’s slot receiver, he has experience but still needs to show he can play more like he did in New Orleans than last season in Pittsburgh, where he was barely used.

TJ Jones: He made the roster based off a strong preseason and could be active over Moore on game day based off special teams ability -- especially if he wins a returner job.

TIGHT END (3)

Eric Ebron: The true X factor this season, the Lions want him to improve enough so he can be devastating in the middle of the field and a true No. 3 option after Johnson and Tate.

Brandon Pettigrew: He’s the Lions’ best blocking tight end and will likely see the field on a majority of snaps.

Tim Wright: The Lions went with him over Joseph Fauria, hoping he can provide more of a full-field pass-catching option than Fauria was.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Riley Reiff: He had a really strong training camp and should be able to protect Stafford’s blind side better than last season, when he was the Lions’ second-best lineman.

LaAdrian Waddle: It’s a question what he’ll look like coming off an ACL injury that ended his 2014 season, but Detroit needs him to be back to his form as a rookie in 2013.

Cornelius Lucas: The swing tackle spent last season learning how to play right tackle and looked inconsistent during the preseason.

Corey Robinson: He’s a project and the Lions would likely look elsewhere before putting him in the game as a long-term solution due to injury.

Larry Warford: His ankle injury is a concern right now, but once he returns he is Detroit’s top offensive lineman.

Travis Swanson: He seemed to be growing into his role this season, but with a rookie potentially next to him, the margin for error decreases a little.

Laken Tomlinson: The first-round pick will eventually be a really strong lineman and will likely form a strong guard duo with Warford, but expect inconsistency in 2015.

Manny Ramirez: He’s a perfect catch-all backup on the interior of the line as a good -- but not great -- utility guy.

Taylor Boggs: He played his way onto the roster after a consistently strong camp. He’s young enough, too, that if the Lions like what they see he could become the backup utility lineman of the future.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

Ezekiel Ansah: He’s going to be looked at as a leader of the line with Ndamukong Suh gone -- and also as a player who needs a big step up in production after 15.5 sacks his first two seasons.

Jason Jones: He hasn’t played this preseason, but the veteran is a strong rush defender and also is good in containing gaps.

Darryl Tapp: The emotional leader of the defensive line, he is a veteran who gives the Lions some consistency.

Devin Taylor: The Lions used him as a deep rotational player the first two seasons, but his inside-outside flexibility could put him in position for a larger role in his third season.

Phillip Hunt: Like Boggs, he forced his way onto the roster with a consistently strong camp -- to the point where he might be Detroit’s second-best edge-rusher.

Haloti Ngata: An All-Pro in a defense he is somewhat familiar with, he is going to have to continue his run-stopping dominance for the Lions to be effective.

Tyrunn Walker: He has the size and speed off the ball to be an effective interior pass-rusher, but how he handles an increased snap load from what he saw in New Orleans is a question.

Caraun Reid: He reshaped his body and worked out with Suh in the offseason, leading to him being a potential 2015 breakout contender.

Gabe Wright: The rookie is going to be a rotational end, at best, this season as he learns the game. It could be tough if he’s forced into a bigger role.

Jermelle Cudjo: Initially cut, he was brought back by the Lions the day after final cuts, and he could leapfrog Wright in the defensive tackle rotation. He was particularly good against the pass.

LINEBACKER (7)

DeAndre Levy: One of the best 4-3 outside linebackers in the game, his coverage skills are particularly important even as Detroit likely blitzes him more this year.

Stephen Tulloch: He’s playing with a renewed fervor coming off his ACL injury, and if he stays healthy, he should have a strong season.

Tahir Whitehead: He filled in decently for Tulloch last season, but will likely work out better as a rusher in the strongside position.

Kyle Van Noy: After a rookie year in which he was mostly injured, Van Noy could eventually surpass Whitehead as a starter.

Josh Bynes: He’s shown positional flexibility at linebacker and is a core special-teams player.

Travis Lewis: He likely made the team because of his special-teams work, but he had a strong camp at linebacker as well, enough that he got a look with the first team the final two weeks.

Brandon Copeland: He can play rush end in certain passing situations and as a stand-up linebacker and is pretty good on special teams.

CORNERBACK (6)

Rashean Mathis: The 35-year-old continues to get better with age and will be expected to be one of Detroit’s top defenders this season.

Darius Slay: He became one of the top young corners in the league by the end of last season, and if he continues his ascent in 2015, he could become one of the top 10 corners in the league.

Alex Carter: The rookie will miss the first half of the season on injured reserve-designated to return and likely will not be a major contributor in 2015.

Josh Wilson: The likely starting nickel corner has experience and can play on the outside if necessary.

Nevin Lawson: Potentially the nickel corner of the future, he is aggressive and with more experience should be better making plays on the ball.

Quandre Diggs: He shined early in the spring but is most likely a development corner this year. The potential is there.

SAFETY (4)

Glover Quin: The Pro Bowl safety is entering his prime and has become the spokesperson for the Detroit defense.

James Ihedigbo: His play dipped a little toward the end of last season, but he was a Pro Bowl alternate last season and is a very good in-the-box safety.

Isa Abdul-Quddus: A core special-teams player, he showed he can fill in without a ton of drop-off if there is an injury.

Don Carey: The veteran is a core special-teams player, and that is his primary value.

SPECIALIST (3)

Matt Prater: He stabilized Detroit’s kicking game last season and has been spot-on most of the preseason (one missed extra point aside).

Sam Martin: He continues to be one of the top young punters in the NFL.

Don Muhlbach: A consistent long-snapper. If this is the last you hear about him this season, that’s a very good thing for the Lions.