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Checking in on the Lions' position battles: Defense

A look at where some of the Detroit Lions' defensive position battles stand after two weeks of training camp.

Leon Halip/Getty Images

With two weeks of training camp and one preseason game in the books, let's check in on some of the Detroit Lions' position battles, this time examining the defense:

Defensive end

Featured camp battle: Larry Webster vs. Darryl Tapp vs. Devin Taylor vs. Corey Wootton vs. Phillip Hunt for the No. 3 DE job

Other camp battles: The runners-up from the featured camp battle for the No. 4 and No. 5 DE jobs

With Jason Jones out, Darryl Tapp got the start at defensive end against the New York Jets. That's a pretty clear sign that he is the third defensive end right now. Devin Taylor could potentially change that if he keeps performing like he has so far during training camp, though. Taylor has looked impressive and at the very least has locked down his spot in the rotation. The same can't be said for Larry Webster, who hasn't shown a ton yet this summer. He will need to start showing more to hold off Corey Wootton and Phillip Hunt.

Defensive tackle

Featured camp battle: Tyrunn Walker vs. Caraun Reid vs. Gabe Wright for the second starting DT job

Other camp battles: The runners-up from the featured camp battle for the No. 3 DT job

Haloti Ngata's absence throughout training camp so far has given Tyrunn Walker and Caraun Reid a lot of reps. Both players started last Thursday, for example. At this point, it's probably too early to call either player the favorite to start alongside Ngata, but Reid has looked really impressive this summer. Whether he starts or not, it's safe to say the top three at DT is settled; Gabe Wright will be the fourth DT going into the season.


Featured camp battle: Tahir Whitehead vs. Kyle Van Noy vs. Josh Bynes for the starting SLB job

Other camp battles: Travis Lewis vs. Julian Stanford vs. Brandon Copeland for the final spot at linebacker

There's no question that Tahir Whitehead will start at strongside linebacker for the Lions. Kyle Van Noy and Josh Bynes just haven't shown enough to this point to put Whitehead's job in jeopardy.

The same could be said for Travis Lewis when it comes to the final backup spot. Lewis played the most snaps of all the Lions' linebackers against the Jets, and he continues to feature prominently on special teams.


Featured camp battle: Quandre Diggs vs. Josh Wilson vs. Nevin Lawson for the No. 1 nickelback job

Other camp battles: The runners-up from the featured camp battle vs. Chris Owens vs. Mohammed Seisay vs. Crezdon Butler for the final two spots at cornerback

Quandre Diggs entered training camp with all of the hype, but both Josh Wilson and Nevin Lawson seem to have passed him at this point. Neither Wilson nor Lawson has emerged as the clear favorite for the nickel corner job just yet, but I expect the Lions to ultimately go with the veteran (Wilson), at least at the start of the regular season.

As for the other camp battles, it still seems pretty clear that the four backups at cornerback will be Wilson, Lawson, Diggs and Alex Carter. The door is now slightly open for someone like Crezdon Butler thanks to the Mohammed Seisay trade and the fact that Carter has not yet practiced this summer due to an injury, but unless Carter ends up on injured reserve, this position already seems pretty much settled.


Featured camp battle: Don Carey vs. Nate Ness vs. Isaiah Johnson vs. Brian Suite vs. Taylor Mays for the No. 4 spot at safety

Other camp battles: Isaiah Johnson vs. Brian Suite for a spot on the practice squad

The Lions took a long look at Isaiah Johnson last Thursday, but Don Carey is the safe bet for the final safety spot right now. He's a versatile backup and contributes heavily on special teams, so it feels unlikely that he will lose his job to one of the undrafted free agents or Taylor Mays.

As for those undrafted free agents, Johnson is clearly the frontrunner for a spot on the practice squad if he doesn't make the team. He played 18 snaps on defense in the preseason opener, while Brian Suite only saw two special teams snaps and nothing more.

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