By Brian Kalchik @BrianKalchik on July 8, 2014
The Detroit Lions already have key players like Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh in place and ready to make a big difference this year. With that being said, there are still a few positions that need to be filled on the depth chart in order to ensure maximum competition on both sides of the ball. Here now is a look at five dark horse candidates to make the 53-man roster for the Detroit Lions.
Before the release of Chris Houston, the outlook on CB Jonte Green's roster chances wasn't good. Now that the veteran corner is gone, his chances at making the active roster have drastically increased. Green does have previous starting experience on his side (seven games in two years), and an impressive end to the 2013 season gives the young corner some momentum heading into training camp.
James Franklin is an intriguing prospect because he is the exact opposite of what Detroit already has on the roster. Franklin is the only dual-threat QB Detroit currently has, which he honed while at Missouri. The fact that the Lions didn’t draft a quarterback and signed Franklin so quickly signals that he is the team's developmental quarterback going forward.
TJ Jones was Detroit's sixth-round pick this season, and given the recent struggles of the slot receivers (Titus Young and Ryan Broyles), Jones could very well sneak his way on the roster. While Young is long gone, Broyles hasn't been able to stay on the field in his brief career. Also, the rest of the receiving corps, outside of Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, is nothing to brag about.
Gabe Lynn may not be the biggest name in terms of Detroit undrafted free agents, but his versatility will help this former Oklahoma Sooner get a spot on the 53-man roster. Lynn played cornerback and safety for the Sooners and typically had to go up against some of the top offenses in college football throughout his career. He also spent time in the nickel, an important defensive position for the Lions considering the rest of the division.
After spending the past two training camps in San Francisco and Green Bay, Giorgio Tavecchio is with Detroit and competing with seventh-round draft pick Nate Freese to be Detroit's starting kicker. During OTAs, Freese has reportedly struggled while Tavecchio has been the better kicker. Just the fact that this is still a competition means that Tavecchio's chances are still good.
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