By Quinne Lowe @sports_qa on June 7, 2014
As we get closer to the start of the 2014 NFL season, many Detroit Lions fans are anxious to see the type of changes under head coach Jim Caldwell and his staff. Are these the coaches to finally maximize the potential of some of their key players, and will they be able to do something former coaches couldn't, develop talent? The following five players carry the most interesting storylines heading into training camp.
After going undrafted and being a journeyman his first couple of seasons in the NFL, it looks like Joique Bell has found a home in his hometown. After a productive 2013 season that saw him have 1,197 total yards and eight TDs, it will be interesting to see how he responds to now playing with a long-term contract. There is a sense of desperation in athletes when there is financial uncertainty that sometimes turns to lax play after a payday.
Lions fans rejoiced with the signing of Golden Tate, because he is expected to take the pressure off of star receiver Calvin Johnson. Is this the answer to the longstanding question of, "If Calvin is covered, who can the Lions depend on?" If Tate is able to continually improve his stats as he has the previous four season in the NFL, Lions fans will be happy and defensive backs league-wide should be very worried.
By not picking up the team option on his contract, the Lions are taking a hard stance with the talented, but lazy DT out of Auburn "show and prove." Nick Fairley has done his part so far by losing 25 pounds, but it remains to be seen if that will translate into more production on the field. If it does, he will be in line for a significant financial raise and could be the reason that Ndamukong Suh is allowed to leave Detroit.
For some, this is a make or break season for Matthew Stafford. There are questions about his mechanics, his ability to play well consistently, and simply put, beat teams with winning records. There was also the issues about his response to the media and fans suggesting that he seek outside help to improve his play. If Caldwell is able to harness that talent, this team could be Super Bowl contenders. If not, it may be time for a new quarterback.
Outside of quarterback, the most scrutinized position on the Lions is the cornerback. Fans see a glaring need that's never been addressed, while the staff may feel that they have plenty of untapped talent on the roster. One of those players is second year man Darius Slay. After a rough rookie season, Slay is looking to prove that it was more schematic issues and a steep rookie learning curve, and not a lack of talent.
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