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Detroit Lions Pre-Training Camp Roster Overview: Offense

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Training camp is nearing for the Lions, and to get you ready for all of the roster battles and storylines, Sean Yuille breaks down the offense position-by-position.

The calm before the approaching storm that is training camp is nearing its close. The Lions report to Allen Park for training camp a week from Friday and practice is set to get started a day later. What that means is that the preseason is right around the corner and football that actually counts is only a couple months away. Also, it means that things like the 53-man roster, cuts and players on the bubble will soon be terms that dominate discussion about the NFL.

Heading into training camp, there are really two clear cut groups of players: those who are for sure going to make the team and those who are fighting for a spot on the final roster. Training camp is just as important for players who needn't worry about making the team, but for the younger guys or veterans on the bubble, their future in the NFL, at least with the Lions, is dependent on what happens during camp.

Soon enough, there will be predictions about who will make the final 53 and talk revolving around which players should be let go, but for now I want to just take a general look at the Lions' current roster. Before we start worrying about who should stay and who should be cut, it's important to look at an overview of what the Lions have to work with heading into camp. Which positions will feature some of the hot battles for roster spots? Where is depth still a concern? Who is helping make a position a worry-free zone for Lions fans? Let's take a look at the offense today.

Roster make-up: 81 players currently (39 on offense, 38 on defense, 4 on special teams)

QB Matthew Stafford
QB Shaun Hill
QB Drew Stanton

For the first time in a long time, the Lions have very few question marks about the quarterback position heading into training camp. Sure, there are many questions about Stafford as he enters his second year in the league, but for the quarterback position in general, things are pretty much set. Stafford is your starter and Hill is your backup. Meanwhile, Stanton is there as the third-string QB, a role that likely won't change for him until he becomes a free agent in 2011.

RB Jahvid Best
RB Kevin Smith
RB Maurice Morris
RB Aaron Brown
RB DeDe Dorsey

While the main battle at running back will be between Best and Smith for who gets to start, the undercard will be entertaining to watch as well. Morris, Brown and Dorsey will be fighting for likely two roster spots, making things interesting as far as who will be the odd man out. On the one hand, you have a veteran like Morris, who showed at the end of last season that he can play well. On another side of this fight is Brown, who is still learning and developing after an inconsistent rookie season. Finally, there is Dorsey, a young guy who has been through battles like this a few times before. Needless to say, depth is not a concern here, as it is a matter of taking the best of the best (no pun intended) at running back.

FB Jerome Felton
FB Matt Clapp
FB Jake Nordin

Depth is certainly not a concern at fullback, so like running back, the issue is which player(s) will show coaches the most and earn a spot on the team. The reason I didn't just say "players" is because there's no guarantee the coaches will take more than one fullback. It's definitely possible considering Jim Schwartz recently said that each is a different kind of fullback, but it's just as possible that only one fullback will make the team. Felton is the leader in the clubhouse if there's room for only one, but don't count out a guy like Nordin, who is versatile being that he previously played tight end. Also, don't count out the undrafted rookie Clapp, who Schwartz said is the Lions' lone "true fullback."

WR Calvin Johnson
WR Nate Burleson
WR Bryant Johnson
WR Dennis Northcutt
WR Derrick Williams
WR Eric Fowler
WR Brian Clark
WR Tim Toone
WR Contrevious Parks
WR Mike Moore

The wide receiver position can be divided into three main groups: the locks, the veterans who need to prove they should stick around and the young guys who are fighting for a spot on the team. The locks group consists only of Calvin Johnson and Burleson. Those two are the Lions' top receivers and don't need to worry about making the team. The veterans with something to prove group consists of Bryant Johnson and Northcutt. Both were brought in a year ago to upgrade the WR corps, but neither was all that impressive last season. They have potential, but are they good enough to make the team over guys like Williams, Toone or Moore, just to name a few of the younger guys? That remains to be seen, but there's no doubt camp will be just as important for them as it is for the younger receivers.

TE Brandon Pettigrew
TE Tony Scheffler
TE Will Heller
TE Dan Gronkowski
TE Richard Dickson

Tight end very well may be the deepest position on the team, assuming Pettigrew gets healthy at some point during camp. If that happens, then the Lions will have two for sure starting-caliber TEs in Pettigrew and Scheffler. They do things in different ways, but both can be really, really good, especially in the Lions' offense. I would even put Heller in the starting-caliber category considering he started in nine games last season. Is he as explosive as Pettigrew and Scheffler? No, but he blocks well and has good intangibles. Beyond those three, you have Gronkowski and Dickson, a couple of young guys looking to make their mark. Gronkowski spent most of 2009 on the practice squad, giving him an edge over Dickson experience-wise, but neither may have a real good shot at making the team with the top three of the depth chart already in place.

OT Jeff Backus
OT Gosder Cherilus
OT Jon Jansen
OT Jason Fox
OT Corey Hilliard

I wouldn't exactly call offensive tackle a deep position, but as it stands right now, the two-deep for the 2010 season is already in place in my mind. Backus is for sure the starter at left tackle. Right tackle's starter will likely be Cherilus, though Jansen is pushing him for the job. That means that one of Cherilus and Jansen will start and the other will be the backup. That leaves Fox, a fourth-round pick from the U, to serve as Backus' backup. He will get work at both tackle positions, but I expect him to be Backus' backup on the depth chart, probably leaving Hilliard without a spot on the team unless the Lions keep five tackles.

C Dominic Raiola
C Dylan Gandy
C Dan Gerberry

Raiola is once again going to be the Lions' starting center. Competing to be his backup are Gandy and Gerberry, who both are versatile enough to play guard on top of center. That versatility is basically a requirement for backup linemen looking to make the team, and both Gandy and Gerberry have it. That means that they will compete for a spot on the team as depth at both center and guard.

OG Rob Sims
OG Stephen Peterman
OG Manny Ramirez
OG Trevor Canfield
OG Roy Schuening

The starters at guard are likely set with Sims and Peterman. Behind them, however, things are up in the air. Although Ramirez started 12 games a year ago, there's no guarantee he will be brought back as a second-stringer. Guys like Canfield and Schuening are going to be pushing him for a spot on the team as a backup at guard, as are the aforementioned Gandy and Gerberry. For guard, who makes the team will come down to how many players the coaches decide to take and just how much they value versatility, among other things. Right now it's tough to say anybody has an edge, as things are wide open behind Sims and Peterman.