The top three spots at safety are basically locked in for the Detroit Lions. Glover Quin is the starting free safety, James Ihedigbo is the starting strong safety and Isa Abdul-Quddus is the top backup at the position. The Lions got extremely good play out of their safeties last year, and they have a lot of depth going into the 2015 season.
That excess of depth could potentially be bad news for Don Carey, who was the fourth safety (and occasional nickelback) in 2014. He is looking to maintain that role this year, but he will have to fend off four challengers for what will likely be the final spot at safety on the 53-man roster.
Let's start with Carey, who has been with the Lions since 2011. He has proven to be a valuable backup given his ability to play multiple spots in the secondary and contribute quite a bit on special teams. That combination of versatility on defense and contributions in other areas of the game always goes a long way for players who are trying to secure a spot on the team.
New to the safety position for the Lions are Isaiah Johnson, Brian Suite and Taylor Mays. Johnson received the largest signing bonus of the Lions' 2015 undrafted free agents, which is an excellent sign for his chances of sticking around. Another good sign for his chances of sticking around is that he turned some heads in the spring, as did Suite. Mays didn't have a chance to turn any heads considering he only signed with the Lions toward the end of June, but he's been in the NFL since 2010, so they should already have a pretty good idea of what he can do at safety.
The other safety worth mentioning in this camp battle is Nate Ness, who was on the 53-man roster for one game last season. Outside of that, he was on the practice squad, but perhaps he will make a case for the fourth safety role and a permanent spot on the active roster in training camp this year.
Who has the edge right now?
Carey is pretty clearly the frontrunner for the fourth safety job going into training camp. It certainly wouldn't be surprising if he's edged out by one of the undrafted safeties or even Mays, but given how much the Lions seem to value Carey's contributions on defense and special teams, this sort of feels like his job to lose.
Previously: Backup quarterback, starting running back, No. 4 running back, starting fullback, No. 3 wide receiver, No. 4 offensive tackle, starting left guard, starting center, No. 5 interior offensive lineman, No. 3 defensive end, second starting defensive tackle, starting strongside linebacker, No. 6 linebacker, No. 1 nickelback