ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions opened offseason workouts Monday morning and so much has changed since the last time the franchise’s players convened at the team’s headquarters.
Calvin Johnson retired. So did Rashean Mathis. Stephen Tulloch remains on the roster but is not expected back. General manager Bob Quinn was hired and the franchise revamped a lot of the pro personnel front office staff. This is the new world for Detroit, one without a megastar and with some questions about who will lead and become the face of the franchise.
Johnson was never the most vocal leader, but he was also the franchise’s hardest worker and set the example for the receivers and the rest of the offense to follow. Mathis was the old man of the secondary and one of the team’s most dependable voices.
And the Lions can start to replace what the two of them brought to the locker room Monday, with the start of offseason workouts.
Receiver Jeremy Kerley said he didn’t see any players make impassioned speeches to the rest of the team on the opening morning of workouts. For Kerley, it has been mostly introductions since he signed with Detroit last month from the Jets.
He also said Johnson wasn’t mentioned much during the first session.
“Nah, not that I heard,” Kerley said.
Eventually, though, players will fill those roles. Here’s a brief look at who might be in the lead to inherit more of a leadership role with the franchise in 2016.
Matthew Stafford: With the departures of Johnson and Manny Ramirez, Stafford and tight end Brandon Pettigrew are now the longest-tenured offensive Lions. Stafford is also the most likely to become the face of the franchise, especially without a megastar on either side of the ball. Due to the position he plays, it goes to him almost by default.
Golden Tate: He has been the Lions’ most outspoken offensive player the past couple of seasons and will be looked to as the veteran in the receiver room after Johnson’s departure. He is also entering his third season in Detroit, so he’s a locker room veteran at this point.
DeAndre Levy: The linebacker looked to be in a strong leadership position last season before a hip injury kept him out for nearly the entire season. He’s expected to return to the Lions healthy in 2016 and should slide directly into a leadership void created by Mathis’ retirement and the eventual departure of Tulloch.
Glover Quin: He’s the obvious player to become the overall defensive leader (if he wasn’t already) as well as the unquestioned leader of the secondary. He’s also one of the most outspoken Lions and is one of the franchise’s player reps for the NFLPA.