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 or not the Lions will be contenders 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 Friday with offensive line.
What the Lions have: Taylor Decker (left tackle), Laken Tomlinson (left guard), Travis Swanson (center), Larry Warford (right guard), Riley Reiff (right tackle), Graham Glasgow, Gabe Ikard, Geoff Schwartz, Joe Dahl, Chase Farris, Corey Robinson, Cornelius Lucas, Michael Ola.
What they might still need: The Lions have run through a bunch of offensive linemen – mostly undrafted free agents – during offseason workouts. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Detroit continue to search for linemen throughout camp.
Likely roster spots: 8-10.
What to expect in camp: A lot of competition at a position group with many, many questions. Does Decker stay at left tackle when pads come on? Can Swanson hold off Glasgow and Ikard at center? Who wins the third and maybe fourth tackle gig considering those players have had big roles the past few years due to injury? Where do the Lions play Dahl? Oh, and does the starting five jell? Bob Quinn may have spent significant draft resources rebuilding the offensive line, but there’s no guarantee this one will be better than the one the past few seasons.
Reason to believe: If Decker and Reiff have success in padded practices keeping Ezekiel Ansah and Devin Taylor from pressuring Matthew Stafford every down, that’ll be a start. Same with Haloti Ngata not blowing up the middle of the offensive line play after play. There is a lot of highly drafted talent on the line, with every projected starter being drafted in the third round or higher. Eventually, it should come together, but so far that success has been intermittent. The Lions also made it sound like they have changed up blocking schemes this season, potentially to something fitting their group better.
Be concerned because: This group has not played together before. Decker is a rookie. Reiff hasn’t been on the right side in years. Tomlinson had consistency issues last season, as did Swanson. This group, with four players who started last year, struggled blocking against the run and in pass protection. Rookies typically struggle, so having Decker protect Stafford’s blindside could be problematic early in the season as he continues to pick up the speed of NFL offenses.