Barring another injury, Jeff Backus will likely be the Detroit Lions' starting left tackle in 2012. First-round pick Riley Reiff is on track to play early, according to Scott Linehan, but it would be surprising if he pushed Backus out of a job.
Despite the fact that Backus will likely be the starting left tackle this upcoming season, the transition at the position has already begun. Really, it began when the Lions decided to pick Reiff in the first round of this year's draft. The plan is for him to eventually take over for Backus, and with Backus still around, Reiff is getting the chance to learn a lot from the veteran. Hoping to make the transition as smooth as possible, Backus is sort of serving as Reiff's mentor, according to Anwar Richardson.
Backus has spent this offseason pouring his 12 years of NFL experience into Reiff. He has taken extra time giving Reiff guidance during organized team activities (OTAs), which will likely continue during Detroit's mandatory minicamp next week.
"It's not like it used to be years ago when the vets wouldn't help you at all," Lions guard Rob Sims said. "It's a different day. Jeff is watching Riley, always in his ear about something he's doing wrong, or something he can improve on. He's good for this team, and Jeff is a proven warrior around here."
It can't be easy for a guy like Backus to know that his time in the NFL is starting to wind down and his probable eventual replacement is already on the team. It says a lot about Backus that he is spending extra time to show Reiff the ropes, because in the long run his wisdom will help not only Reiff, but the Lions in general.