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Returning from last season: Landon Cohen, Andre Fluellen, Sammie Hill
New to the team: Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Robert Callaway
The defensive tackle position underwent quite the transformation this offseason. First, right as free agency opened and trades could be made, the Lions made a deal to acquire Corey Williams from Cleveland. Right then one of the starters was in place. Then, in April, the Lions drafted Ndamukong Suh with the second overall pick, giving the position its other starter. While depth isn't out of this world or anything, the two starters are very good players and Sammie Hill is an excellent backup, which is why the defensive line as a whole is expected to be much better this coming season.
At defensive tackle, all eyes will be on Suh this year; there is no doubt about that. Already we have seen one opponent double team him in order to limit the damage he can do, and that was in his first ever NFL game. I'm sure we will see more of that in the future, and although I imagine Suh would rather not have two guys on him, it allows the rest of the players on the D-line to do more.
Next to Suh at DT is Williams, who is expected to return to the player he was in Green Bay since he is back in a 4-3 system. He didn't live up to the expectations the Browns had for him, but the fact that he played in a 3-4 had a lot to do with that. Now in a 4-3 with the Lions, the hope is for him to be a force on the inside next to Suh. If he can play well this season, the Lions' defensive line may very well be one of the most talented in the league.
The first player off the bench at DT is Hill, the second-year player from Stillman. A year ago, the Lions' lack of depth forced him into the starting lineup much earlier than anyone expected, and while he probably wasn't ready, he definitely gained valuable experience. He went from a raw player to a pretty good defensive tackle pretty quickly, and now that he only has to be a backup, he will have more of a chance to develop at a less-rushed pace.
After Hill, the two players likely battling for a roster spot are Andre Fluellen and Landon Cohen, who have both been with the Lions for a couple seasons. Robert Callaway was released once already during training camp but was brought back after Joe Cohen was waived with an injury. Unless he suddenly improves quite a bit in the coming weeks, chances are he will once again be on the outside looking in as far as a spot on the roster is concerned.
Need going forward?
After the top three players at this position, it's anyone's guess as to what happens, so it's certainly possible that a new defensive tackle could be brought in, especially if another team releases one. It's not exactly a high-priority position on the needs list, but it is one that could potentially use a bit of a depth upgrade.
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