By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on June 10, 2014
The Detroit Lions have been conducting OTAs in Allen Park, Michigan with the ambition of returning to the postseason after a two-year absence. Here are five things we've learned about this year's club thus far.
Despite being a productive punt returner with the Seahawks, Golden Tate isn't expected to return punts for the Lions. Instead, Tate will supposedly focus on expanding his role offensively with his new team. He'll certainly have a chance to do some damage with defenses designing coverages to contain Calvin Johnson.
2013 fourth-round pick Devin Taylor should push Jason Jones at defensive end. Jones missed all but three games last year with a ruptured patellar tendon, but is still the favorite to start at the left defensive end spot given his experience. But Taylor showed enough promise as a rookie to make things interesting.
New offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi left a Saints team this offseason that employed a running game by committee. That could bode well for Detroit's stable of backs, particularly Joique Bell, Mikel Leshoure and Theo Riddick. Two of the three will likely join Reggie Bush to comprise the Lions' committee.
At this juncture of the offseason, all indications are that Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis will open the season as the Lions' starting cornerback duo. Slay struggled as a rookie, but is expected to make strides as a sophomore. Mathis, meanwhile, was an above average starter in 2013. The odd man out is expected to be Chris Houston, who was burned for 834 yards and five touchdowns in coverage last year.
The Lions declined to exercise Nick Fairly's fifth-year option this offseason. One reason why was his inability to remain at optimal playing weight. Well, Fairly reported to offseason training at a slim 295 pounds, a whopping 27 pounds lighter than he finished 2013. He could be poised for a dominant campaign in a contract year.
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