The Detroit Lions are getting set to focus on yet another season, and the first step to that playing out is to get things cranked up on the field for training camp.
In the next few weeks, players will arrive in Allen Park and bring the process of fine-tuning their games into full focus. As expected, there will be the typical ups and downs of training camp along the way, and players will have to guard against getting too high or too low during this time.
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When camp gets underway, there will be several players who will face the heat from day one on the field. Here’s a look at the players who will be under the most scrutiny this season.
Jahlani Tavai, Linebacker
Most folks in the Lions fanbase want nothing more than to write Tavai off given the fact that he has struggled in the years since being a puzzling early draft pick of the Lions. Even in spite of that, the staff does not seem like they are inclined to pull the plug on Tavai yet, and have been raving about his preparation for the 2021 season in terms of weight loss and getting himself in the right mindset. Tavai has to show up and earn a role because nothing will be given to him whatsoever this season.
Jeff Okudah, Cornerback
There probably isn’t anyone on the roster that will be coming for Okudah’s job in only his second year in the NFL, but it will be worth watching to see how long a leash the new staff has with the cornerback. Last season, Okudah struggled badly, but was also the victim of injury recovery and a staff which did not seem to maximize his potential. With that in mind, there are still gobs of pressure on Okudah thanks mostly to where he was drafted. Fair or unfair, there is going to be an expectation that Okudah must deliver quickly relative to his top-five draft pedigree. The process toward getting there will begin in training camp for Okudah.
Jared Goff, Quarterback
Goff might be flying low-key in Detroit now and being severely underrated heading into this season, but that doesn’t change the fact that there will be a decent bit of pressure on him as he starts his Lions career. Fans came to know and appreciate Matthew Stafford over his career, so with change comes some uncertainty. Will Goff be able to come in and win over the folks who cheer for his new team? Getting things established and off to a good start will be a huge key, and the proving ground toward getting this right will be training camp. Goff has to get his season off to a good start, or the naysayers will continue to flap their gums about him being overrated and damaged goods.
Trey Flowers, Defensive Line
Flowers has yet to show up and produce in an overwhelming way for the Lions, at least not as far as his massive contract goes. So what will happen to him in 2021 as the team looks to shake up his position? Training camp will have to be the time that Flowers gets off to a good start and establishes some momentum for a new season. It isn’t wise to think Flowers is in jeopardy of being cut, but the lineman has to start fast after his fresh start with his new coaching staff.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Offensive Line
Like Flowers, the term “overpaid” has been tossed out a lot with Vaitai, who was being counted on to create some big change up front for the Lions when he was signed. Now, the Lions have what looks like an upgraded offensive line all the way around. Last season, thanks to injury and poor play, Vaitai was not able to be a part of the revival, but the Lions are hoping he can step up and show something at tackle this year. Right off the bat in camp last season, Vaitai fought injury, so he has to find a way to avoid those issues in 2021. A big season for Vaitai starts with his performance in training camp being solid.
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