As part of our season wrap-up series, we are going to examine how each player on the roster performed in 2012. Next up is our look at the Detroit Lions' offensive tackles.
Jeff Backus - 15 games (15 starts)
Backus dealt with injuries before and after the 2011 season, and he saw his streak of 186 consecutive starts come to an end on Thanksgiving in 2012 due to a hamstring injury. He actually only missed one game because of the injury, and he returned as the starting left tackle after his brief absence. Injury concerns aside, Backus seemed to have a pretty good season. While he may struggle at times against the league's top defensive ends, he has really held his own the last few years. I still am of the belief that he is underappreciated by fans, especially when you consider just how much the Lions pass the ball.
Gosder Cherilus - 16 games (16 starts)
This might surprise some of you, but Cherilus had a pretty good season as well. Pro Football Focus grades him as the third-best offensive tackle who is set to become a free agent this year, and he is considered the best Lions free agent. Cherilus certainly has been inconsistent at times during his career, but he stepped it up during a contract year while also holding off a first-round pick who was after his starting job.
Riley Reiff - 16 games (8 starts)
Speaking of that first-round pick, Reiff essentially served as a sixth offensive lineman for the Lions during the 2012 season. Scott Linehan deserves credit for his creativity with how he got Reiff on the field in various packages. While Reiff only started at left tackle for one game, he got a lot of valuable experience all season long. At this point, I would say he is ready to become a full-time starter; the only question is which spot on the offensive line will open up for him.
Jason Fox - 1 game (0 starts)
Fox was only active for a single game in 2012. This is because the Lions' top tackles didn't suffer any significant injuries. As a result, he wasn't able to crack the lineup and was only dressed for one game. Even so, that's really not important. The important thing for Fox in 2012 was that he managed to make it through the season without suffering any injuries. Injuries had been a big issue in his first two seasons in the NFL, and proving to coaches that he can stay healthy was big for his future with the team. Depending on how free agency shakes out, he could be in the mix to start or at the very least be a top backup in 2013.
Corey Hilliard - 0 games (0 starts)
Hilliard wasn't active for any games in 2012 for the same reason as Fox. With there being no significant injuries, Hilliard was simply never called upon to play.