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Forget the QBs: Lions' guard competition is fierce, still undecided

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The competition for the Detroit Lions' starting quarterback job could last until the end of the preseason. The decision on who will be the two starting guards could take just as long.

The Lions were one of the NFL's worst rushing teams last season, averaging just 82.3 yards per game -- 30th in the league -- en route to the first-ever 0-16 campaign.

Enter Milford Brown, who started four of the six games he played for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, and Terrance Metcalf, an eight-year veteran who spent his first seven seasons with the Chicago Bears before being released in March.

Metcalf, one of the newest players on a Lions team that has turned over more than half its roster since the last game of the winless season, said the opportunity was too good to pass up.

"I can compete for a job here," said Metcalf, who started about one-third of the games he played with the Bears. "It's a chance to work hard and show I belong here. That's all I've wanted."

New Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said the line probably will look the same when Saturday's second preseason game begins in Cleveland, but he hinted that five men are competing for just four spots.

"We've got ideas of our rotation; I think it will be pretty similar to the way we did it last week," he said. "We're really about two-deep, anyway, so we're trying to maintain that for the game."

Stephen Peterman, who started most of last season at right guard, and new acquisition Daniel Loper started at the guard spots in the preseason-opening victory over the Atlanta Falcons. They remain at the top of the depth chart, but neither appears to have job security.

Loper was a backup the last two seasons with the Tennessee Titans, and Manny Ramirez also has alternated with him on the first team in recent drills.

Jon Jansen was a tackle during his 10 seasons with the Washington Redskins, but those spots here appear secure. Jeff Backus is beginning his ninth season starting on the left side, and the right belongs to Gosder Cherilus, who started 13 games there as a rookie last season.

Jansen has seen a handful of snaps at center during camp and said he'll do whatever it takes -- including playing guard -- to be part of the regular unit on game days.

"I'd be most comfortable at tackle," the former University of Michigan standout said. "But if that doesn't happen, I want to be able to play wherever they need me. They're only going to have a few guys on Sundays. I want to be one of them."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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