Evaluating the Lions roster: Defense & special teams

Gregory Shamus

The Detroit Lions have established their 2013 roster. Let's take an in-depth, position-by-position look at the defense and special teams.

The Detroit Lions have established their 53-man roster after making some final tweaks before kicking off the 2013 regular season. Let's examine each position on defense and special teams by breaking down who made the team.

Defensive end (5): Ziggy Ansah, Jason Jones, Israel Idonije, Willie Young, Devin Taylor

In terms of deciding who to keep on the 53-man roster, defensive end may have been the most straightforward position on the entire team. Ansah and Taylor, the two draft picks from this year, were a given to make the team, as were Jones and Idonije, the two free-agent signings. Young, the only holdover from last year, was also a given to make the team after another strong preseason.

Defensive tackle (4): Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, C.J. Mosley, Justin Bannan

Defensive tackle was also pretty straightforward for the Lions. Suh and Fairley are hoping to form the most dominant defensive tackle tandem in all of the NFL, and it was clear that Mosley was going to be the top backup at this position ever since he signed. Bannan may have only joined the Lions in mid-August, but he pretty much locked up the fourth spot at defensive tackle as soon as he was officially signed.

Linebacker (6): Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy, Ashlee Palmer, Tahir Whitehead, Travis Lewis, Rocky McIntosh

Are you sensing a theme here? With Tulloch, Levy and Palmer established as the starters, there was no question that they would make the team. There was also no question (to me, anyway) that Whitehead and Lewis, two backups who competed for a starting spot in training camp, were going to make the team. The last spot was up for grabs going into the final round of cuts, and the Lions ultimately went with McIntosh. He was actually released on Sunday, but the Lions brought him back a few days later, giving them six linebackers going into the season.

Cornerback (5): Chris Houston, Darius Slay, Bill Bentley, Jonte Green, Rashean Mathis

One of the bigger surprises about the 53-man roster is that Ron Bartell is not on the above list. He came into training camp as a starter, but he didn't even make the team. Instead, the Lions went with Houston and Slay as the starters, and they decided to keep Bentley and Green, who are both entering their second year in the league. They also decided to keep Mathis, who only joined the Lions in mid-August, because of his ability to play cornerback and safety.

Safety (5): Glover Quin, Louis Delmas, Don Carey, John Wendling, DeJon Gomes

As long as Delmas is healthy, he will be a starter at safety alongside Quin. If Delmas isn't healthy, Carey will step in for him in the starting lineup. This leaves Wendling and Gomes, who was just claimed off waivers from the Washington Redskins on Sunday, as the other backups. Wendling will primarily be a special teams player, and chances are Gomes will see a lot of playing time on special teams as well.

Kicker (1): David Akers

The Lions' replacement for the retired Jason Hanson is Akers, who beat out Havard Rugland for this spot. Akers appears to finally be healthy, and hopefully that means his accuracy will return to pre-2012 form. If that doesn't happen, the Lions may have to make a mid-season change at kicker, but let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Punter (1): Sam Martin

Martin, who was drafted by the Lions in April, beat out Blake Clingan for the starting punter job. Martin had an impressive preseason, and not just as a punter. He also displayed an ability to consistently boot kickoffs out of the end zone, and he will serve as the Lions' kickoff specialist in addition to being their punter.

Long snapper (1): Don Muhlbach

After Muhlbach went to the Pro Bowl last season, the Lions didn't even bother to bring in a camp body to compete with him at long snapper. This was his job all the way.

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