Surprise Offensive Positions Lead Lions’ Top Training Camp Battles

Jermar Jefferson

Getty Jermar Jefferson poses during a 2019 game for Oregon State.

The Detroit Lions are heading toward training camp rapidly approaching and are beginning to look at what battles will be on the horizon for them when the critical period kicks off near the end of July and trickles into August.

Obviously, with the amount of change that has taken place on the roster and elsewhere, there will be multiple places that are full of intrigue when camp gets going and plenty of players who have to find a way to step up and make their camp experience count for 2021.

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This year, what positions will be the best to watch? There are some potential surprises for fans. Here’s a look at what everyone should be remembering come the start of camp.


Cornerback

With Jeff Okudah likely locked in to one spot on the roster, the opportunity exists for the Lions to hold an audition to see who starts opposite of him and also who might carve out a depth role on the team. The Lions will want to see Amani Oruwariye continue his development while seeing the resurgence of depth veterans like Corn Elder as well as Quinton Dunbar. Add to that rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu as well as cagy veteran Mike Ford, and you’ve got the makings of an excellent camp battle. Nothing will be guranteed for any f these players, meaning they’re going to have to earn whatever roles they get. It will be fun to watch who lands where at a key spot on the roster that need an uptick in play.


Wide Receiver

Detroit signed Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams as part of a total upheaval at this roster spot, and also added names like Kalif Raymond, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Chad Hansen and Damion Ratley. With those players as well as Quintez Cephus as a lone roster holdover, who stands out the most? It will be fascinating to see what players step up and make a impression in camp with plenty of roster battles likely to be hashed out and won. Wideout is wide open for the Lions this year, and everything from key starters to backups will have to be settled which is very much unlike years past.


Linebacker

The Lions didn’t add much off the roster to this spot this offseason, but the players they did keep are guys who are very much being depended on for bigger and better results. Chief amongst them is Jahlani Tavai, who has struggled the last few seasons after being thrust into the spotlight in Detroit. Getting better play out of Tavai as well as Jamie Collins will be important. Rookie Derrick Barnes wants to make a case for an immediate role on day one, and that will be his challenge. This group has struggled mightily the last few years and is a big reason the defense hasn’t met expectations. Seeing who manages to step up and perhaps make their snaps count will be important to watch during training camp.


Offensive Line

Most of the main combatants are known up front with the likes of Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Jonah Jackson, Penei Sewell and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. What could be very interesting is seeing who wins reserve or backup roles at a very stacked position on the team. Tyrell Crosby will have plenty to say about that, as will Logan Stenberg, Dan Skipper and Matt Nelson, who all were solid in their own right in 2020 when they saw time. Sorting out the starting group up front might be easy, but figuring out who backs them up will be just as important to a team that needs quality depth in the trenches.


Running Back

The Lions may have D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, but they also have Jermar Jefferson as well as Michael Warren. Moreover, the team has reportedly been looking at signing Todd Gurley, meaning they might not be as sold on the depth behind the big two. Seeing if the Lions truthfully believe in the second and third string will be important for 2021, and if they don’t, another addition could be made. It will be on Jefferson to step up and make the team forget about trying to acquire Gurley or someone else. That is what camp and the preseason will be for at this loaded and important spot on the team.

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