The Detroit Lions open organized team activities Tuesday with the first on-field practice of the spring. Here are five things to pay attention to during this first week of OTAs for Detroit:
1. Who is opposite Ezekiel Ansah? One of the bigger surprises of the Lions’ offseason was the Lions opting not to sign or draft a potential impact pass-rusher to pair with the Pro Bowl defensive end. So what do the Lions do here? There are a couple of options, with Kerry Hyder and Cornelius Washington the two most likely contenders to take the spot vacated by Devin Taylor. Hyder and Washington are two very different players. Hyder is more of a speed rusher who was a breakout player for Detroit last year and led the Lions in sacks. Washington is a free-agent signing from Chicago and at 292 pounds is more of an edge-setting defensive end in the mold of what Detroit used to have in Jason Jones. The wild-card here is Armonty Bryant, who played well for the Lions when he wasn’t suspended or injured. He should get a shot to win the job, too, and has a similar inside/outside versatile presence that Hyder and Washington also possess. All three should end up having roles with Detroit this year.
2. What goes on at right guard? Free-agent signing T.J. Lang is not expected to participate in spring workouts as he recovers from offseason hip surgery, so this will be a critical time for Joe Dahl and Laken Tomlinson to try and prove themselves. Both will end up competing with Graham Glasgow at left guard, too, but watch the right guard reps. They should provide a clue as to who has the stronger hold on the position heading into training camp.
3. The backup quarterback battle: This won’t really start until training camp, especially since rookie Brad Kaaya will be picking up the playbook throughout the next month. Jake Rudock is going to get a bigger test than some may anticipate from the sixth-round pick out of Miami. Detroit could end up keeping both players, but this spring is the chance for Rudock to show how much he’s improved with timing and accuracy while Kaaya is still learning.
4. What does Ameer Abdullah look like? Abdullah missed all of last season’s spring workouts recovering from shoulder surgery. Then he missed the majority of last season with a foot injury. He’s 100 percent now and should be participating throughout OTAs. Even he doesn’t know what to expect because he’s never been through it before, but considering the Lions avoided signing a veteran free agent or drafting a rookie at the position, they are putting a lot of capital in Abdullah being healthy and strong. This is his first chance to show the speed and strength are still there.
5. Kenny Golladay, TJ Jones, Jace Billingsley: Wide receiver depth is an issue for the Lions and while Golladay is an intriguing prospect who could be a red zone threat and a strong outside receiver, he’ll be competing with Jones and Billingsley for time and reps. Jones and Billingsley are also competing just to be on the roster -- and may find their way to secure a spot will be through winning the return competition. But if one player stands out over the next month, it would give Detroit more security at the position.