The Detroit Lions open training camp on July 27 at the team’s practice facility in Allen Park, Michigan. Here’s a closer look at the Lions’ camp:
Top storyline: It’s a new regime in Detroit, but will the Matt Patricia-Bob Quinn combination fare any better than the others, which haven't been able to lead the Lions to the league championship game in 60 years? Quinn and Patricia have brought with them many aspects from their old place of employment, New England, and while this storyline will play out over multiple years, it is the No. 1 concern of the Lions at this point.
QB depth chart: Matthew Stafford is the entrenched starter. The real battle is for the No. 2 spot, where veteran Matt Cassel will compete with third-year pro Jake Rudock. There’s a chance the Lions will keep all three quarterbacks on the roster, but there’s also a real possibility that only one of the backups earns a job in Detroit this fall.
Bubble watch: Every position will have players on the bubble, but the three positions to pay most attention to are safety, running back and wide receiver. At safety, do the Lions keep five? And if they do, is Miles Killebrew among them? Once a player who seemed headed toward starter status, he’s now in a fight for his job. At running back, how the Lions handle Ameer Abdullah and Zach Zenner will be something to watch, and a plethora of players should compete for the Nos. 4 and 5 receiver roles. While TJ Jones should be safe as the No. 4 receiver, strong camps from other players could push him toward the bubble.
This rookie could start: In the case of first-round pick Frank Ragnow, it’s not a “could” start, it’s a “should” start. He has taken all of the first-team reps at left guard during practices open to the media and seems to be settling in there. Beyond Ragnow, second-round pick Kerryon Johnson may start at running back in some games, but he still should have a role each week and could end up as the featured back by the season’s end.
Pass-rush problems: It's been an issue for years, and aside from Ezekiel Ansah -- who again did very little work in the spring -- the Lions do not have a player who has shown that he can consistently rush the passer. Detroit largely ignored the need in free agency and during the draft, so it remains a problem heading into training camp. Kerry Hyder and Anthony Zettel have both flashed in prior seasons, but can they put it together for more than one year? And how much can free-agent linebacker Devon Kennard provide? A combination of those three players needs to supplement Ansah’s totals for Detroit to have defensive success.
How the team adapts defensively: The answer to this will become more apparent throughout the season, but after being primarily a 4-3 team for years, how can many of Detroit’s players handle learning a new multiple system on a week-to-week basis? They’ve practiced multiple looks in the spring and figure only to enhance that during training camp. That said, until the Lions really show they can handle it every week, it will be a big-time question.