Lions Saturday Mailbag: Where are the weakest links?


After months of waiting, the Detroit Lions will take part in actual football by the end of this month when the first organized team activities (OTAs) of the year begins.

At that point, some questions may start to come into focus and there are many of them surrounding the Lions as they enter May. We handle some of them in this week's Lions Mailbag, split over Saturday and Sunday.

Just a clerical note, there will be no Lions Mailbag on Memorial Day weekend.

Now, on to your questions.

@mikerothstein: The simple answer is probably not. The Lions still have Joique Bell and appear to envision him as the primary back, at least for the beginning of 2015. Ameer Abdullah will have a role in the backfield early on, though, potentially as a third-down or change-of-pace back to complement Bell. He could also end up as the team's primary returner. It would not be surprising if Abdullah eventually ends up in a time share with Bell by midseason, but at this point I don't envision that from Week 1.

@mikerothstein: That's a somewhat difficult question because we don't exactly know what the rookie class will bring, but I'd still say the offensive line. The right tackle spot is far from solidified with LaAdrian Waddle coming off knee injury and Cornelius Lucas becoming the likely starter until Waddle's return. Center appears to be a competition between Travis Swanson and Manny Ramirez and the Lions are banking on Laken Tomlinson making a smooth transition at left guard without much veteran leadership to help. Still think there are many, many questions there. If not at offensive line, receiver depth is still a large question mark despite the signings of Lance Moore and Greg Salas. Defensive tackle is still a somewhat weak position as well because of the new roles almost every player in that group is going to have to take.

@mikerothstein: I'll hit on this more in a video next week, but it means more competition and the position group clearly being on notice that Detroit is still looking for upgrades at the position. I understand why you like the Lance Moore signing, but as I wrote earlier this week, he appears to be on the downside of his career and he was wholly unimpressive in Pittsburgh last season. Maybe returning to an offense he is familiar with and a play-caller he knows in Joe Lombardi will mean a late-career renaissance. I wouldn't be super confident in that, though. There's no guarantee Moore makes the team and the same goes for journeyman Greg Salas, who was also signed in the past few days. Don't get caught up by the name. Look at the production. That's the true test of whether he'll be on the roster this fall.

@mikerothstein: A chance? Maybe, but not a good one. The Lions still seem committed to a 4-3 defense, although we'll get a better feel of what Detroit might be trying to do once OTAs begin later this month. I'd expect the Lions to have more multiplicity in their looks this season than they did last season, when they said they were multiple but ran with mostly four down linemen. The way this defense is structured screams a defense with great position flexibility and that is what Teryl Austin has wanted from the get-go.

@mikerothstein: Both sides have been pretty quiet about potential negotiations, although the Lions have indicated they would like to get a deal done with Haloti Ngata. Ngata also seems willing to work something out. Typically, that means a deal will happen. If I'm the Lions, I want it done before the season, although I wouldn't make it a long deal for the 31-year-old Ngata. I would try to sign him through 2017 and that's about it. But, I'm not the Lions, so I can't say for sure what they are thinking. They've been pretty mum about what they want to do.