A'Shawn Robinson could win DT job for Lions by season opener vs. Colts

The Detroit Lions open training camp on July 28 at their practice facility in Allen Park, Michigan. Here's a starting lineup projection:


Quarterback (Matthew Stafford): As long as he’s with the Lions, Stafford will be the starter. The question is whether he can build on the second half of his 2016 season, when he completed 70 percent of his passes and the Lions won 75 percent of their games.

Running back (Ameer Abdullah): He overcame fumbling issues in becoming Detroit’s leading rusher, but how he rebounds from offseason shoulder surgery will be a question.

Receiver (Golden Tate): He has been extremely productive in two seasons with the Lions and could reach 1,000 yards for the second time in three years, now that Calvin Johnson has retired.

Receiver (Marvin Jones): He was Detroit’s big free-agent signing and should see enough targets to top last season's career highs in catches (65) and yards (816).

Tight end (Eric Ebron): He is the Lions’ X factor. If he can turn his considerable promise into consistent production, Detroit might have another mismatch to use in the wake of Johnson’s retirement.

Left tackle (Taylor Decker): Initially, Decker was pegged for right tackle, but so far everything has pointed to the rookie starting his career protecting Stafford’s blind side.

Left guard (Laken Tomlinson): After initial struggles, he settled in toward the end of the season. Last year’s first-round pick needs a bump in production in Year 2, particularly playing next to a rookie.

Center (Travis Swanson): He’ll be pushed by Gabe Ikard and third-round pick Graham Glasgow, but Swanson will hold on to the gig to start the season. By the end of it? That depends on Swanson.

Right guard (Larry Warford): He dealt with some injuries last season, and in a contract year he needs to regain his form as a rookie, when he was one of the league’s best guards.

Right tackle (Riley Reiff): Entering the final year of his deal, Reiff appears to be moving from left tackle to right tackle as Detroit tries to shore up its line.


Defensive end (Ezekiel Ansah): A Pro Bowler last season, the fourth-year pro hasn't reach his potential yet. It’s why double-digit sacks and another Pro Bowl appearance should happen again in 2016 -- along with possibly leading the league in sacks.

Defensive tackle (Haloti Ngata): He looked stronger toward the end of last season and appeared to be in really good shape during OTAs and minicamp.

Defensive tackle (A'Shawn Robinson): This will be a tight battle throughout camp, but figure the rookie to beat out vets Tyrunn Walker and Caraun Reid for the starting job. It’ll be close, though, and Walker easily could win the job, leaving Robinson as the No. 3 tackle.

Defensive end (Devin Taylor): He had the best year of his career last season (35 tackles, seven sacks and a fumble recovery) and will slide into a starting role in a contract year. His career arc resembles that of former Lions DE Willie Young.

Outside linebacker (DeAndre Levy): One of the best coverage linebackers in the league, the Lions need a healthy Levy, who missed all of last season with a hip injury.

Middle linebacker (Tahir Whitehead): The Lions re-signed Whitehead to a two-year deal during free agency, and he will slide into the middle of Detroit’s defense, replacing Stephen Tulloch. Whitehead has been progressing toward this role for the past couple of seasons.

Outside linebacker (Kyle Van Noy): This is more of a ceremonial starting position because the Lions will end up in nickel a lot during games -- and Van Noy will go out in favor of Quandre Diggs.

Cornerback (Darius Slay): He has turned into one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks and could become a true shutdown corner for the Lions in his fourth season.

Free safety (Glover Quin): A Pro Bowler in 2014, Quin is the steadying force of Detroit’s defense and is consistently good in coverage.

Strong safety (Rafael Bush): Signed by the Lions in free agency, he’ll battle for position with a plethora of guys, including Tavon Wilson, Isaiah Johnson and rookie Miles Killebrew.

Cornerback (Nevin Lawson): He showed improvement last season after missing the majority of his rookie year with a foot injury. The Lions have a lot of confidence in Lawson to replace the retired Rashean Mathis opposite Slay.


Kicker (Matt Prater): He’s one of the best kickers in the game and gives the Lions stability at the position.

Punter (Sam Martin): He’s in a contract year, and his leg is one of the strongest out there. Martin has been one of the league's better punters and is a strong kickoff guy.

Long-snapper (Jimmy Landes): Somewhat surprisingly, the tenure of Don Muhlbach will end because Detroit drafted a snapper in the sixth round this year.