ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions open training camp Thursday 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 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 with defensive backs.
What the Lions have: Darius Slay (cornerback), Glover Quin (free safety), Rafael Bush (strong safety), Nevin Lawson (cornerback), Quandre Diggs (nickel), Johnson Bademosi, Adairius Barnes, Crezdon Butler, Alex Carter, Keith Lewis, Darrin Walls, Ian Wells, Charles Washington, Don Carey, Isaiah Johnson, Miles Killebrew, Tavon Wilson.
What they might still need: Another veteran cornerback could make things interesting, but the Lions like Lawson and Diggs in their roles. So they are in pretty good shape from a roster perspective.
Likely roster spots: Up to 11.
What to expect in camp: Two spots are locked in -- Slay and Quin. Lawson is close to securing a starting role, as is Diggs at the nickel unless they falter during camp. The biggest area to watch will be strong safety, where Bush leads a somewhat open competition. It's one that Bob Quinn said on SiriusXM radio in June that he'll be watching intently. While Bush is the favorite, the guy to watch here could be rookie Killebrew. He's a hard hitter and showed some surprising coverage skills during OTAs and minicamp. Johnson also is going to push for the spot held by Bush. It might be the most intriguing position battle in camp.
Reason to believe: Slay is one of the best corners in the league. Quin is one of the best free safeties in the league. The two are comfortable playing together. Lawson could emerge as an above-average corner this year and that would boost Detroit's secondary. The chemistry between Slay, Lawson and Diggs -- a group dubbed "The Three Amigos" by Slay -- is obvious. If Slay takes the next step in his progression, he could shut down a quarter-to-half of the field for opposing quarterbacks, helping the defense.
Be concerned because: Strong safety is a massive question mark and Quin is still building rapport with whomever wins that battle. If Lawson doesn't live up to expectations as a starter, every player behind him has some major question marks. Depth at corner is thin beyond the starters. Another underlying concern could be if Slay gets too aggressive going for interceptions and misses -- something he did a little bit at the start of last season. Quin and other defensive players will have to remind him again that pass breakups can be equally as valuable, but it seems to be a lesson he already learned.