As we continue to get ready for Detroit Lions training camp, we're going to examine some of the position battles that will be worth keeping an eye on over the course of the next month and a half or so. Next up is the battle for the starting right tackle job.
When the 2012 season came to an end, there wasn't really expected to be much of a competition for the starting right tackle job going forward. It was pretty clear that Gosder Cherilus wasn't going to be re-signed, but the thinking all along was that Riley Reiff would take over at right tackle for a year while Jeff Backus wrapped up his career at left tackle.
What actually ended up happening was a different story. Backus decided to retire this year, meaning Reiff is expected to become the starting left tackle right now. This leaves the right tackle job up for grabs, and it means that some former backups will get a chance to become a starter this summer.
Jason Fox, the first of two candidates to replace Cherilus in the starting lineup, has been with the Lions since being drafted in the fourth round in 2010. He dressed for four games in his rookie season, but injuries forced him to miss the majority of his first two years in the NFL. He only dressed for one game last season, but he was able to stay healthy, and now he's in the mix to start as a result.
Corey Hilliard is the more experienced of the two candidates to start at right tackle. He's been in the NFL since 2007, and he dressed for all 16 games for the Lions in 2010 and 2011. What's more, he made five starts in those two seasons. He may not have been active at all last year, but he's actually got some starting experience in the NFL.
Who has the edge right now?
Hilliard may have experience on his side, but I think Fox has the edge to start at right tackle. The Lions seem to like Fox's potential, and he is the one who dressed last season when Backus was out on Thanksgiving, not Hilliard. At least going into camp, I think Fox has a slight edge over Hilliard in this competition.