ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The Detroit Lions are in the middle of OTAs and things are starting to slowly take shape, although nothing will really be known about this year’s team until at least the middle of training camp.
But there are still questions that can be answered and sorted through as you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.
Have questions for next week’s Mailbag? Use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter, drop me a note on Facebook or email me at email@example.com. All three communiques were used in this week’s Mailbag.
Now, on to your questions.
@mikerothstein: Since 2000, few teams have drafted tight end in the first round more than once and one of them, the Jets, shouldn’t count considering Anthony Becht was taken in 2000 and Dustin Keller was taken in 2008. In somewhat close proximity, though, two teams have done it. The Patriots took first-round tight ends in 2002 (Daniel Graham) and 2004 (Ben Watson). The Bengals did the same thing with Jermaine Gresham in 2010 and Tyler Eifert in 2013. The Lions, of course, took Brandon Pettigrew in 2009 and Eric Ebron in 2014. Both are still on the roster and have roles with Detroit, but injuries have caused issues, again leaving the Lions searching for at least some depth at the position. So they aren’t the only team to do it – and to be fair, the issue there isn’t Ebron or Pettigrew but the No. 3 tight end spot at this point.
Tommy Currie from Facebook asks: Is there any update on what the plan is for Stephen Tulloch?
Rothstein: The short answer is … no. Stephen Tulloch remained on the roster through the first set of organized team activities for the Lions, and Detroit seems in no rush to actually release him even though he hasn’t shown up at OTAs and has been told by the Lions he’s not part of the plans for the 2016 season. Teammate DeAndre Levy said he has spoken with Tulloch, but they don’t talk about football. The expectation is Tulloch still will be released at some point, but when that ends up being, no one knows.
Ray B. from Parts Unknown asks: Michael, with a somewhat weak defensive secondary, could you see the Lions signing someone like Brandon Boykin to be the slot corner? Also, what are the odds the Lions sign free agent TE Owen Daniels to bolster the weakening depth at that position?
Rothstein: Ray, two fair questions. Also two things I’m not sure happen. The Lions should feel pretty good with what they have at slot corner with Quandre Diggs, who showed he has the toughness and intelligence to play the position. They also have been working Alex Carter as an inside corner (albeit in a dime situation), so I don’t know if that is as much of a need. Outside corner, to me, is a bigger concern. The Lions need to sign someone at tight end, and Owen Daniels was someone who came to mind in a pretty weak crop. The issue with Daniels is his knees and if they would hold up. He’s no longer a premier tight end and if he’s comfortable being a No. 2 or No. 3 tight end, maybe he is someone Detroit would consider. But it might be smarter to go younger, especially since Pettigrew has knee questions of his own coming off a torn ACL.
Will P. from Canada asks: Which running backs do you anticipate making the 53?
Rothstein: There are two running backs who are locks to make the roster – Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Stevan Ridley, with $250,000 guaranteed, would seem to have a good shot to make the roster as long as he’s healthy. This leaves one, or maybe two, spots for Zach Zenner, George Winn and seventh-round pick Dwayne Washington. Fullback Michael Burton should make the club for his special teams skills – although if offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter doesn’t value a fullback he could be in trouble. That’ll be a question for him the next time he speaks publicly. Like last season, it’ll be a tough competition for that last roster spot or two and won’t be decided until late in camp.