Five position battles to watch at camp

All eyes will be on offensive and defensive lines

Lions players report on Saturday and then get down to business on Sunday for the first day of training camp.

Like every offseason there has been plenty of roster tinkering by general manager Bob Quinn. Once again he has put emphasis on the offensive line and appeared to beef up the defense.

Here are five position battles to watch during training camp:

1. Left tackle is a big question mark until Taylor Decker recovers from shoulder surgery. He could miss the first month or so. The Lions tried out Joe Dahl there in the spring before signing two veterans in Greg Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio. It’s likely one of those two will be the starter until Decker returns. Corey Robinson could also be in the mix. The Lions like Dahl but perhaps tackle is not the best fit. He should compete at guard.

2. Left guard is probably Graham Glasgow’s to lose. He started the final 11 games there in 2016 after taking over for Laken Tomlinson who wasn’t getting the job done. It is not a lock for Glasgow who performed well as a rookie. Along with Tomlinson he’ll face competition from Joe Dahl. Veteran T.J. Lang was signed to start at right guard so all the competition will be for the left side. Don’t sleep on Dahl. The only thing he is lacking is experience.

3. Defensive end to play opposite Ziggy Ansah is another huge question mark. Devin Taylor was not brought back. Armonty Bryant, who could be in competition, has been suspended for the first four games. It’s not his first offense so he could be gone. Kerry Hyder is probably the favorite after he led the team with eight sacks in 2016. He will compete with Cornelius Washington (who was signed as a free agent) and Brandon Copeland. Hyder is so motivated that he thinks he’s fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster even though that is as close to a lock as it gets.

4. Linebacker was the defense’s weakest area in 2016 but should be improved with first-rounder Jarrad Davis who was drafted to start at middle linebacker. He takes over for Tahir Whitehead who could move to the weakside. The defense plays so much nickel that usually two linebackers are on the field. Veteran Paul Worrilow could start on the strong side. Also look for fourth-round pick Jalen Reeves-Maybin to get some playing time. He’s another one who had an impressive spring. Would be a shocker if Davis isn’t the starter in the middle come September.

5. Rookie Kenny Golladay, who is 6-foot-4 and wears No. 19, had a standout spring, making tough catches with rarely a drop. If he keeps that going in camp he could easily be the third wide receiver. The locks are Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. Then there’s are the fourth and fifth spots. In 2016, the Lions kept five wide receivers on the 53-man roster. That could change if they keep an extra tight end. But if they keep five they seriously have to look at Jared Abbrederis (who had a good spring), TJ Jones, Jace Billingsley, Keshawn Martin (Michigan State) and possibly Ryan Spadola. It’s a make-or-break camp for TJ Jones who was drafted in 2014. Billingsley is one of more interesting guys on the roster. He’s undersized at 5-foot-9, but makes it work for him. He’s speedy and shifty. He was a standout in the preseason games last year as a rookie. Do not count him out.

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Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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