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A position-by-position breakdown of what we’ll be watching at Lions’ minicamp

An in-depth look at the storylines we will be watching at the Detroit Lions 2023 mandatory minicamp.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions have completed two weeks of 2023 offseason training activities (OTAs), and this week, the team will implement their three-day minicamp. For the most part, practices in Allen Park will be nearly identical to OTAs (no pads, lots of individual drills, etc.) with a few minor tweaks. Most notable are that these practices have mandatory attendance (there will be some excused absences) and all three practices are open to the media.

We at Pride of Detroit will have at least one staff member in Allen Park for all three days, with Jeremy Reisman scheduled for all of them, and I (Erik Schlitt) plan on getting to one or two depending on how my schedule shakes out. Needless to say, we will have plenty of coverage for our readers.

Let’s kick things off by taking a look at a few of the things we will be looking for at Lions’ minicamp.


The offense has struggled with chemistry in the two OTAs open to the media, and while that’s not unexpected for spring workouts, it’ll likely be a focus during minicamp. Chemistry starts with Jared Goff, so we’ll be watching to see if any improvements have been made.

We’ve seen both a good day and a bad day from Nate Sudfeld this spring, so more information will be gathered on his potential to be the team’s primary backup. For what it’s worth, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is happy with the Lions' current quarterback situation.

“I love the room right now,” Johnson told the media at OTAs.” There is a great camaraderie in there and I think that is really important when you need to find that backup quarterback position. It’s not only a guy that can go in there and win games, but for the majority of the season, if all things go right, he is there to support that starter and we have that right now, not only with Nate (Sudfeld) and Hendon (Hooker) and Adrian (Martinez), we have a good group. And they are learning, they are growing. And once again, we are evaluating consistently we are putting pressure on them consistently to see what they can do out on the field in team settings.”

Running back

Beyond testing their athleticism and pass-catching skills, it’s challenging to learn a lot from running backs in non-padded practices. Still, an apples-to-apples comparison of those traits can help us better understand a player's overall potential. So let’s see if Jahmyr Gibbs can put on a show.

Wide receiver

All eyes will continue to be on Jameson Williams, as his ability to build chemistry with Goff will likely be a key catalyst for how quickly he can get back into the mix following his six-game suspension.

Kalif Raymond is expected to step up to fill Williams’ shoes in his absence, but is there a young pass catcher that can challenge him for snaps? Seventh-round rookie Antoine Green, Trinity Benson, and even UDFA Dylan Drummond will have my attention.

Tight ends

Many want to hand the starting tight end reigns to Sam LaPorta—and understandably so—but I’m not so sure Brock Wright will let the rookie take his job away too easily. This will be a fun battle to watch.

Offensive line

Temper expectations here, as no pads limit what we can ascertain. Additionally, some of the veterans have been getting some rest, making the depth chart a bit unpredictable. We’ll be keeping an eye on any players expanding their positional range and who is the “next man up” for the veteran roles.

Defensive line

Like with the offensive line, temper expectations beyond athleticism and positional versatility. Individual drills can be separators here, so that’s where this group will draw our eyes.


The Lions have been taking it slow with Jack Campbell, rolling with him as the second-team MIKE linebacker. I fully expect him to stay there throughout the spring, but I’ll be peeking to see if he gets any run with the first team, and if so, will it still be at MIKE?

Beyond Campbell, is Malcolm Rodriguez healthy enough to get back on the field? And if he is, will he supplant Derrick Barnes, who has been running with the first team at WILL?


With a lot of new faces in the secondary, I’ll be focusing on athleticism during individual drills and positioning during team drills. The Lions showed some cross-training in OTAs so far—i.e. using Chase Lucas on the outside after spending his rookie season at nickel—, so who ends up where will be interesting to track.

I have been waiting for a long while for the Lions to add some hybrid players in their secondary and they’ve added a couple of studs this offseason in C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Brian Branch. How they’ll be used will be a fascinating study through the spring and fall.


The Lions have been taking it slow with Tracy Walker during OTAs after coming off his Achilles surgery, which will provide opportunities for others to step up. How much time will Gardner-Johnson and Branch get at safety or will a player like Ifeatu Melifonwu continue to step up, as he did in OTA No. 5?

Special teams

Based on how the Lions have used their three (!) kickers, they appear to have Parker Romo and Riley Patterson battling it out for a chance to challenge incumbent Michael Badgley in the fall. So far, Romo impressed with his huge leg, and Patterson will have to improve his consistency in order to make this a competition.

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