ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions opened 2021 NFL training camp on Tuesday at the team’s headquarters and training facility in Allen Park. Here's a closer look at a few storylines:
Who will quarterback Jared Goff’s primary target? Which receiver will have a breakout year? What is a realistic expectation for Goff in his first season in Detroit?
On paper, a change of scenery and a new setting should be a good thing for Goff, but he still has to produce. Detroit’s receiving corps is highlighted by Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman and rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown -- far from household names. Much of Goff’s success could depend on how big of a leap that Detroit’s Pro Bowl tight T.J. Hockenson takes in Year 3.
Goff takes over for franchise legend Matthew Stafford. Hockenson attended Tight End University in the offseason, run by George Kittle, Travis Kelce and Greg Olsen, where he left with hardware for his standout ability and earned a spot on the NFL’s All Under-25 team. If Goff and Hockenson can lead this team to more than their projected five regular-season wins, it’ll be an accomplishment.
Can D’Andre Swift become a three-down back who breaks the Lions drought of 1,000-yard rushers?
As a rookie, Swift had to pay his dues. He played behind veteran Adrian Peterson, who led the team in 2020 with 604 rushing yards, but Swift was actually the more effective option. But now, all signs point to Swift as being “the guy” in Detroit.
Swift spent much of this offseason training with Mo Wells at the House of Athlete training facility in Florida, where he focused on full body strength and conditioning, with hopes of showing his versatility in the passing game as well.
Lions running backs coach Duce Staley, a former NFL standout, has also worked with the second-year back to understand coverages, and Swift has the capability to become the Lions’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013.
Is the Lions’ offensive line as good as advertised? Can top draft pick Penei Sewell adjust from left to right tackle?
Yes. Detroit’s offensive line seems to be one of the teams’ biggest strengths and should have no issue protecting Jared Goff. They’re built for the future with Sewell, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker all signed through at least 2023, and with Decker coming off the best year of his career. Depth could come into play, if they hold onto Tyrell Crosby. As of now, though, the front office is extremely excited about Sewell – the seventh overall pick – even as he switches from left to right tackle in the league. So far, he’s lived up to the hype.
Can former third-overall pick Jeff Okudah rebound from a mediocre rookie season?
Okudah – the man – certainly wasn’t walking around with his head down. However, Okudah -- the football player -- certainly needed his confidence rebuilt after a so-so rookie season. The hiring of former Los Angeles Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant has helped put him in a great place because they started from scratch.
When they were able to communicate, they didn’t start with drill work. They began in the film room, slowing Okudah’s mind down a little bit, which is something that was important. Okudah was put in a tough situation last year, with primarily man-to-man coverage, but he remains passionate about football, and this was the first time in his life when he didn’t have success.
He was a five-star recruit out of high school and attended Ohio State before being drafted No. 3 overall in Detroit. Now his back is against the wall, and he’s putting in the work to prove he belongs on the top level with a staff who looks to take advantage of his strengths.