Soon enough, there will be answers to all the speculation and wondering. The Detroit Lions' veterans will report to training camp Sunday and practice Monday, starting to give shape to what the team will look like in the fall.
With that comes the return of the Lions Mailbag. To submit questions for the Mailbag, either use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, on to your questions.
— Sir Graves Ghastly (@Sir_G_Ghastly) July 25, 2014
@mikerothstein: That's an interesting question because the front end of the roster, barring injury, has a good feeling of being set. So most of the competition will come for those last 10-15 spots on the roster and could be heavily focused on special teams. That said, these would be the five off-the-radar types of players I'd focus on in the first few weeks:
OG Garrett Reynolds: He has experience and while he likely wouldn't supplant Rob Sims or Larry Warford as a starter, he could end up pushing Rodney Austin for a role as a reserve interior lineman. Considering what the team invested in Travis Swanson, it could be Austin vs. Reynolds for a spot.
WR Kevin Ogletree: He was on the roster last season, but has not been talked about much so far before camp. He'll be in a tight battle with Kris Durham, Corey Fuller and others but he has the speed and skills to make the team ahead of both of them. It might not be fair to call him a sleeper, though.
QB James Franklin: This will depend on whether the Lions keep three quarterbacks. If they do, Franklin has a good shot of making the roster.
CB Mohammed Seisay: This is a deep sleeper and he is probably more of a practice squad candidate but if he can impress on special teams and show some improvement as a corner throughout camp he might be intriguing enough to keep as a fifth or sixth corner. Same with Jerome Couplin III and the safeties.
— Derek Mack (@Dmacali818) July 24, 2014
@mikerothstein: This is somewhat complicated. I'd eliminate Larry Warford pretty quick from this conversation unless Dominic Raiola gets hurt or has a dramatic dip in his performance. Warford is consistent and should actually improve. If you're talking purely statistically, it'll probably be Joseph Fauria through no fault of his own. It is just difficult to see a scenario where he receives that many targets with the addition of Eric Ebron and Golden Tate. I'd be somewhat concerned about Ezekiel Ansah, though, since he didn't practice at all this spring and is on active PUP to start training camp. He should have more opportunities but I'd be worried about his durability right now.
— Ray (@Motownray) July 25, 2014
@mikerothstein: A chance? Sure. There's a chance. The problem is this: Unlike baseball and basketball, an NFL team isn't going to have the room to pick up Suh's massive cap number in-season unless they give up a lot. And even then, they'd need a guarantee Suh will re-sign with them after the season. If you're an NFL team, why risk that? I wouldn't.
@mikerothstein Who do you think will make the practice squad?
— Jamie Johnson (@TripleOGJamie) July 25, 2014
@mikerothstein: A couple of the guys I think end up on the practice squad are listed above and not much has changed in my thinking from June, the last time I predicted a roster and practice squad. That said -- changes will likely happen pretty furiously over the next 7-10 days. But as of now, I am focusing on Franklin, fullback Chad Abram, wide receiver Corey Fuller, offensive lineman Alex Bullard, defensive tackle Xavier Proctor, linebacker Brandon Hepburn, Seisay and Couplin III. It would not shock me if three or four of these players end up on the 53-man roster and if three or four end up being released.
— m80_32 (@thedrocks1280) July 25, 2014
@mikerothstein: The open/closed system is not new or revolutionary. Essentially, it means the closed end will line up on the side of the field with the tight end and the open end will not. A lot of teams use this style of designated ends, which is traditional. As far as what to expect -- based off who is lining up where (Ezekiel Ansah is an open end, for instance, and Jason Jones is a closed end), the open end should be the more dynamic pass-rusher and the closed end the better run defender.