Top 10 Detroit Lions Players to Watch in the 2014 Preseason

Detroit Lions Preseason 2014: 10 Players To Watch

Matthew Stafford Lions
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The Detroit Lions are just 72 hours away from their first significant game action since this past December. While we already know what to expect from veteran players like Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Stephen Tulloch, several Lions players need to have a strong preseason outing to get their 2014 season on the right track.

Here now are the 10 Lions players to keep an eye on during training camp and the preseason.

10. Jonathan Baldwin, WR

Jonathan Baldwin Chiefs
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10. Jonathan Baldwin, WR

Jonathan Baldwin Chiefs
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An offseason acquisition this past week, 2011 first-round pick Jonathan Baldwin is now joining his third team in his first four seasons in the NFL. Baldwin has been a bust for both the Chiefs and the 49ers, but with uncertainty surrounding the depth behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate at receiver, he has a shot to make the roster. A knee injury, however, has his status with the team in question.

9. Kyle Van Noy, OLB

Kyle Van Noy Lions
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9. Kyle Van Noy, OLB

Kyle Van Noy Lions
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This year's second-round pick, Kyle Van Noy was expected to supplant veteran Ashlee Palmer at outside linebacker, but he has had a slow training camp so far. Van Noy has been dinged up this offseason with back problems and missed some time with a thumb injury. He will be given plenty of chances this preseason to supplant Palmer, but if he can't stay on the field, Palmer will continue to be a lame-duck starter.

8. Giorgio Tavecchio, K

Giorgio Tavecchio 49ers
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8. Giorgio Tavecchio, K

Giorgio Tavecchio 49ers
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The kicking competition has been one of the more intriguing position battles this offseason for the Lions. This year's seventh-round pick, Nate Freese, was expected to take the job easily, but he has been seriously pushed by Giorgio Tavecchio. Tavecchio has made 21 consecutive field goals in the past few weeks, and a great preseason will give him the job ahead of the highly-touted rookie.

7. Bill Bentley, CB

Bill Bentley Lions
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7. Bill Bentley, CB

Bill Bentley Lions
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Now in his third season, Bill Bentley is in his most crucial offseason in his young career. Bentley is currently listed as a backup to Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay, but with a solid preseason outing, he could unseat either player for a starting role. Bentley has had starting experience before but has performed poorly.

6. Theo Riddick, RB

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6. Theo Riddick, RB

Theo Riddick Lions
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The wildcard in Detroit's backfield, Theo Riddick will be given plenty of opportunities in these next few weeks to show what he's made of. The third-string running back behind Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, Riddick is expected to perform the role that Darren Sproles had in New Orleans when Joe Lombardi was the quarterbacks coach for the Saints.

5. Jason Jones, DE

Jason Jones Lions
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5. Jason Jones, DE

Jason Jones Lions
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Coming off a season-ending injury in 2013, Jason Jones has a lot to prove in 2014. Jones is expected to be the starter opposite Ezekiel Ansah at defensive end, but with stiff completion behind him in Devin Taylor and Darryl Tapp, he will have to earn his right to be a starter in the preseason.

4. Golden Tate, WR

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4. Golden Tate, WR

Golden Tate Seahawks
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Detroit's biggest free agent acquisition this offseason, Golden Tate was paid handsomely to become the team's next No. 2 receiver behind Calvin Johnson. Tate is currently on the PUP list, but he will need to see some in-game action this preseason with the starting unit, mainly to develop some chemistry between himself and Matthew Stafford.

3. Darius Slay, CB

Darius Slay Lions
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3. Darius Slay, CB

Darius Slay Lions
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Darius Slay has been one of the standout players this offseason, but all of his work up to this point won't mean anything with a poor preseason performance. Slay is the favorite to become the No. 1 corner in 2014 after struggling mightily as a rookie in 2013, and a good showing in these next few weeks will solidify him at the top of the depth chart.

2. Nick Fairley, DT

Nick Fairley Lions
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2. Nick Fairley, DT

Nick Fairley Lions
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Nick Fairley is clearly a starter heading into 2014, but he has been dealing with several issues this offseason that have been off the field. Fairley was recently sentenced for his role in a 2012 DUI incident. Also, the Lions declined to give Fairley a new contract this season, hoping that he will earn it in 2014. Fairley's performance in the preseason will dictate his how his 2014 season will play itself out.

1. Matthew Stafford, QB

Matthew Stafford Lions
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1. Matthew Stafford, QB

Matthew Stafford Lions
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Matthew Stafford is the franchise quarterback for the Lions, but he needs a good preseason outing to get the bad taste of last season out. With a new coaching staff in place to work on Stafford's fundamentals, these next four games will tell if Stafford is listening to their coaching or if he is continuing to be an undisciplined gunslinger.

Brian Kalchik is a Detroit Lions Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, ”Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google+.


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