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New to the team: Jason Fox (fourth-round draft pick)
The offensive tackle position has remained mostly untouched this offseason aside from the Jason Fox pick in the draft. That's not too surprising considering the coaches think very highly of Jeff Backus and are willing to give Gosder Cherilus time to develop. There's no doubt play at left and right tackle needs to be better going forward, but part of that involves the offensive line as a whole being better.
Right now, Backus is locked in as the starter at left tackle. Argue all you want about how the Lions should have used the second pick to find Backus' replacement, but the fact of the matter is that for right now, he is here to stay. Jim Schwartz thought he played at a Pro-Bowl level last season, and although it will be necessary to start looking for Backus' successor at some point, right now he is the man on the far left side of the line.
At right tackle, things are much more complicated. Jon Jansen took most of the first-team reps during the OTAs and minicamps this offseason, but that was mainly because Cherilus was out after having surgery. He started working his way back in the last month or so, however, indicating that he should be completely ready to go for training camp. That doesn't mean he will be handed the starting job, though, as it will be a battle between the veteran Jansen and Cherilus, who is still developing.
The new face at tackle is Miami's Jason Fox. He is viewed as someone who could be a franchise tackle down the road. It will take some time for him to develop, but he has potential, which is all you can really ask for out of an offensive lineman who was a later pick.
The other tackle on the roster right now is Corey Hilliard, who was signed last December after being on the Browns' practice squad all season long. He previously played for the Colts and was originally drafted by the Patriots. More than anything, Hilliard is a depth player at this point. His chances of making the team will depend on if any injuries happen and/or how many tackles the Lions decide to take on the 53-man roster.
Need going forward?
The Lions seemingly have a set two-deep with Backus, Jansen, Cherilus and Fox. There's always the possibility of a veteran tackle being brought in after the final round of cuts, but if I had to guess right now, I'd say the aforementioned four players will be the ones on the 53-man roster. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a signing or two at tackle during training camp just for competition purposes, but I'd bet on the current two-deep to be the ones that make the 53-man roster.
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