Training camp is still a month away for the Detroit Lions, but for the front office, there is really no time to rest. The next few weeks are going to be filled with scheme tweaking, practice preparation, and likely some roster maneuvering, as well.
While many view training camp as simply and opportunity for players to show their chops and compete not only to make the 53-man squad, but for playing time, it’s also a key time for coaches to evaluate players and see how they can be best utilized when the regular season hits.
Earlier in the week, ESPN posed the question: What is the biggest roster decision facing each team at this point in the offseason. Answers ranged from establishing a solid quarterback depth chart to extending a contract that is due to expire at the end of the season. For the Detroit Lions, they said the biggest roster decision is finding a role for Ezekiel Ansah in Matt Patricia’s new defense.
“At his best, Ansah is a game-changer with ability that translates to any system,” they argued. “How quickly he assimilates into this new role -- and how much he produces -- will play a part in determining how much his next contract is worth, be it in Detroit or elsewhere.”
Do you agree? Today’s Question of the Day is:
What is the biggest roster decision facing the Detroit Lions as we head to training camp?
My answer: Finding a reliable combination of linebackers to play.
In Patricia’s scheme, linebacker play is key. They are not only in there to defend the run or play solid pass coverage, they are also expected to rush the passer. Patricia has expressed how important versatility is for anyone on the roster, but nowhere is it more key than at linebacker.
And there are plenty of unknowns right now with that position group. While Jarrad Davis and Devon Kennard are both locks to be starters and heavy contributors, there’s little known beyond that. Jalen Reeves-Maybin hopes to see his role expanded in 2018, but he’ll have to compete with newly-added Christian Jones, former Patriot Jonathan Freeny, and a couple undrafted rookies.
It’s not exactly inspiring depth at the linebacker position, but Patricia’s roots come from coaching linebackers. Though he is now responsible for every position on the team, how he deals with the linebacking corps may be the most crucial part of his job this training camp.