Riley Reiff figures to play early, often for Lions


The Detroit Lions' 2011 draft class -- led by Nick Fairley -- has generated as much havoc off the field as on it. The Lions are hoping this year's haul is lighter on the drama, heavier on the production.

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There's hope, in the form of offensive tackle Riley Reiff, the first-round pick who's stepped in and made an immediate impact in organized team activities and figures to play early and often in 2012.

"It's still early to say who's going to play where," Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told the Detroit Free Press on Monday. "But Riley's on track to play a lot of football for us really early. He's an exceptional talent, and he's a great kid. He's going to really help us on our offensive line. Where he ends up this year really hasn't been determined yet. But we're just happy with what we've seen so far. We think he's going to be a heck of a player."

We expect Reiff to find his way into the starting lineup sooner than later, likely as a replacement for right tackle Gosder Cherilus. That won't be Reiff's final destination: He was drafted to ultimately take over the left tackle spot occupied by Jeff Backus. However, that transition could be a season or more away.

For now, Reiff is taking the majority of the snaps with the team's second wave of linemen. The Free Press hinted that Linehan could be weighing consistency versus competition here in June. But if what we're hearing is any indication, Reiff will find his way into the lineup early and should remain there for seasons to come.