Friday, July 26, 2013

Finally, Two More Things...and It's Training Camp, Bitches!

I'm done.  I think.  Training Camp opens today for the Lions.  Let me throw down two more areas of concern, with No. 7 being probably the most psychologically satisfying were it to happen.

6. Offensive Line.  Once the season begins, the O-Line will have had the biggest makeover, with only two of five starters from 2012 returning.  Left tackle Jeff Backus retired, right guard Stephen Peterman was cut, and the other tackle, Gosder Cherilus left for greener pastures because he wasn't worth the money he was asking for.  Center Dominic Raiola had to take a pay cut in order to come back this season, otherwise he may not have had a job at all this year.

Last year's first round pick, Riley Reiff barely saw much of the field.  Taking Reiff in the first round hurt the Lions (not his fault), mostly because he was used as an extra blocking tight end.  That is until Backus went down with an injury, and Reiff filled in for two games.  Despite some struggles, Reiff showed he could replace him and I expect he will improve and be sufficient enough in protecting Matthew Stafford's blind side. 

The Lions took right guard Larry Warford in the third round to replace Peterman.  Warford is massive; he's a 6'5 guard who weighs 345 pounds.  Although he's facing competition for the spot with veteran Dylan Gandy, it's highly likely Warford will win out since they used such a high pick on him.

The right tackle position is by far, the most intriguing.  Veterans Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard are vying to replace Cherilus.  Hilliard has played in spurts for an injured Cherilus, while Fox is a former fourth round pick taken in 2010.  Fox has had to overcome injuries, but a lot of local beat writers give him a slight edge in the competition.

With Raiola's age and short contract, it's reasonable to expect that the Lions aren't done with remodeling that offensive line.  That leaves only left guard Rob Sims as the mainstay.  Sims has been the best offensive lineman on the team for the last three seasons and he provides solid leadership for the younger guys.  I'd say of all the free agent signings Mayhew has made during his tenure, the Sims signing is probably the most underrated.  Sims is only 29, so his age means he should remain the left guard for awhile.

7. Get the monkey(s) off your backs.  Win at Washington.  You've never done that.  Win at Green Bay.  You haven't done that since 1991.  Win the NFC North.  You haven't won a title in 20 years.  Yes, two decades!  Don't just "make" the playoffs, win a game!  You haven't done that since the same year you last won at Lambeau.

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