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Optimism rests on Stafford's health, D-line's clout

  • By Pat Kirwan
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Detroit Lions
Allen Park, Mich.
Camp Opens
Keep Stafford upright
Phil Simms said that Matthew Stafford "has to play smart." Simms had his own medical issues early in his career and had to learn how to live to fight another play. Stafford needs to do the same thing. He's only been sacked 28 times in his short two-year career, but getting rid of the ball quicker, learning to avoid a few hits and letting his play makers get the ball is what he needs to work on this summer. Neither he nor his team can afford an injury-shortened season.
Fix the back seven on defense
It's clear the Lions are building a tremendous front four on defense, led by the best defensive tackle in the game, Ndamukong Suh, but the back seven needs to improve. Signing Justin Durant is a solid first step, but another linebacker and at least one corner would help. If they are unsuccessful in acquiring more players, then some people on the roster have to step up. Eric Coleman needs to push Amari Spievey at safety, Prince Miller and Paul Pratt have to push Nathan Vasher at corner, and rookie Doug Hogue has to push Zack Follett at linebacker.
Develop depth at offensive tackle
Jeff Backus is recovering from an injury and Gosder Cherilus needs to take the next step in his development. Cherilus only gave up two sacks last year, but he did miss four games. The Lions need their backup tackles to be ready to go. That means Tony Ugoh and Corey Hilliard need good camps or the team should look elsewhere for a quality swing tackle.

Top position battle

The Lions are loaded along the defensive line, which talented player will be the odd man out of the starting lineup?



Can Stafford keep himself healthy for an entire season?

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