ALLEN PARK, Mich. – The Detroit Lions open training camp on July 28 in Allen Park, Michigan, and like every team in the NFL, there are questions.
While we won’t know the answers to whether the Lions will be contenders or not until the end of September at the earliest, the roster as it is constructed now could give some clues. And that’s how we’ll view the Lions as we preview them by position for training camp, continuing today with receivers.
What the Lions have: Marvin Jones (starter), Golden Tate (starter), Jeremy Kerley, TJ Jones, Corey Fuller, Andre Roberts, Andre Caldwell, Jay Lee, Quinshad Davis, Jace Billingsley, Ryan Spadola, Damian Copeland
What they might still need: After Marvin Jones and Tate, there are questions about every receiver on the roster, so a veteran addition could happen if GM Bob Quinn sees someone he likes. His mentor with the Patriots, Bill Belichick, has done that before.
Likely roster spots: 5
What to expect in camp: The Lions will use Marvin Jones and Tate a lot to help get rhythm with Matthew Stafford, but figure to use a healthy rotation of players behind them to work with Stafford as well. Detroit has to get its receiver situation sorted out. TJ Jones has an inside track to a roster spot, but beyond him it will be a fierce competition.
Reason to believe: If you listen to Stafford, he believes the Lions have a shot to be strong in the passing game because for the first time in his career, his scouting and what he sees Sundays should match up. Tate has been dynamic as a short-to-intermediate receiver who makes defenders miss. Marvin Jones showed a lot of potential to be a No. 1 receiver when he was the No. 2 in Cincinnati behind A.J. Green. TJ Jones has a chance to be a breakout player in his third season after missing his rookie season to injury and feeling his way through his second season while recovering from nerve issues.
Be concerned because: Calvin Johnson is not walking through that door, except as a spectator and a player to be feted by the fans if he does. Detroit’s players can say all they want, but a receiver corps without a generational talent is a lesser receiver corps. Marvin Jones has never been a No. 1 or a 1A receiver. Jeremy Kerley’s production dropped the past few seasons, as did that of Andre Roberts. The depth is not exactly impressive overall.