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Thursday, July 24, 2008
Lions position battles

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

The Detroit Lions have their usual list of questions, the backfield tops among them:

Running back: Tatum Bell vs. Kevin Smith

The release of Kevin Jones has left the Lions facing a new era in their backfield. For starters, at least, it appears they'll give Bell the chance to be the primary ballcarrier in their new zone-blocking scheme. Bell had success in a similar offense while playing for Denver, and there can be a long transition for players who aren't used to running behind zone blocking. More important, Bell is determined to rebound from a disappointing 2007 season and knows he might not get a better chance in his NFL career.

Smith, however, could turn out to be the Lions' long-term solution here. Coach Rod Marinelli has taken a liking to him, and Smith will get plenty of opportunities to run in the preseason. By the end of the year, a transition could take place.

Intensity index: Hot

Linebacker: Jordon Dizon vs. other

The Lions drafted Dizon as a potential long-term answer at the position, but an unreported arrest for drunken driving landed him in hot water with the team before the first whistle of training camp. Dizon still has the confidence of coach Rod Marinelli, but it's been worth noting the team has visited and negotiated with free agent linebacker Takeo Spikes in recent days.

While it's not out of the question to start a rookie linebacker, the responsible thing to do for the Lions is at least have a safety net. Spikes could be that player, or the Lions could scan the waiver wire for other possibilities as the regular season approaches.

Intensity index: Mild