Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Things to watch in this week's Lions OTAs
By Michael Rothstein
Memorial Day has come and gone and while some of the Detroit Lions players were spread all over the world enjoying the holiday weekend, the majority are back at the team’s practice facility Tuesday to begin the next round of organized team activities.
The media gets their next peek into the OTA practices Wednesday and here are five things to pay attention to this week.
1. Nick Fairley: The defensive tackle missed last week’s practices after having an undisclosed medical procedure. While it is the offseason, this should be worth watching as Fairley’s conditioning and overall health has always been a question for Detroit. Those two things are part of the reasons the team didn’t pick up Fairley’s fifth-year option earlier this year, making him a free agent after the season.
2. Does Calvin Johnson look better: The receiver looked a little out of sorts last week, dropping some passes and not looking like his fluid, best receiver in the NFL self. He played with injuries to both his upper body (finger) and lower body (knees) almost all of last season. Again, the Lions have a while until a game starts but it would be good for the team to see Johnson back in pristine shape at some point before training camp.
3. Do the rookies see more time: They are still learning and everything is moving quicker for them right now, but Detroit’s rookies did not see many first-team snaps during last week’s OTAs. Considering general manager Martin Mayhew said he believes both tight end Eric Ebron and linebacker Kyle Van Noy will be starters at some point this season, it will be interesting to see how fast those two are able to push their way into reps with the starting groups. Understand, though, it is possible the coaching staff wants to work some veterans there to see what they might have heading into training camp.
4. Cassius Vaughn: It was only one practice -- and one May practice won’t be a decider -- but Vaughn played well and in one glance looked like someone who could push for both a roster spot and some playing time at one of the biggest positional questions entering 2014. If he is able to string together a bunch of good practices, he might be able to put himself into a strong position entering camp as a corner to watch for the Lions.
5. Whether the offense starts to catch up: The defense looked a lot better than the offense last week and, as receiver Kevin Ogletree told me, that is to be expected. It often happens at the start of offseason activities as the offense discovers its timing. Considering how much attention was paid to improving the Detroit offense this offseason, the Lions should hope they start to find some rhythm at some point before breaking for break before camp.