clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Detroit Lions Pre-Training Camp Roster Overview: Defense/ Special Teams

New, 3 comments

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 defense and special teams position-by-position.

In the first part of this series, I examined the Lions' offense, which really seems quite strong, both as a whole and on a position-by-position level. The Lions have solid depth at all positions (even the offensive line looks pretty good depthwise) and also have quite a few playmakers at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end.

Defense is a much different story once you get past the defensive line. While the D-line has the potential to be one of the league's best with the likes of Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch, the linebacking corps and secondary are littered with question marks. Considering that the defense has been one of the Lions' biggest problems for years, it's not a new feeling, but rather one that just doesn't seem to go away.

The other unit I will be looking at today is special teams, which has been the Lions' most constant group of players thanks to the longevity of Jason Hanson, Nick Harris and Don Muhlbach.

Just a reminder from part one of this series, the make-up of the Lions' roster looks like this: 81 players currently (39 on offense, 38 on defense, 4 on special teams).

DE Kyle Vanden Bosch
DE Cliff Avril
DE Jason Hunter
DE Jared DeVries
DE Turk McBride
DE Willie Young
DE Chima Ihekwoaba

Defensive end isn't necessarily loaded with talent from top to bottom, but it does have solid depth behind KVB and Avril, who are expected to be the Lions' two starters. Hunter, for example, played quite well last year, and the coaches seem to like him quite a bit. DeVries actually missed last season with an injury and was released at one point during the offseason, but the Lions brought him back, hoping that he will be a veteran presence on the D-line. The other guys are a bit younger and will be in competition for one of the last roster spots on the team. McBride has the most experience given that he has been competing for roster spots for a few years. Even so, Young, a seventh-round draft pick, has potential, as does Ihekwoaba, an undrafted free agent from Canada.

DT Ndamukong Suh
DT Corey Williams
DT Sammie Hill
DT Andre Fluellen
DT Landon Cohen
DT Joe Cohen
DT Robert Callaway
DT Leger Douzable

Like defensive end, there is no shortage of depth at defensive tackle. Two of the new faces on the roster, Suh and Williams, are the likely starters, and behind them anybody could emerge as the backups. Hill will likely be one considering he was a starter for much of last season, but with so many players competing for a couple spots, anything could happen, especially when you consider that players like Fluellen and Landon Cohen have been around for a few years. They have more experience than some of the other DTs, so there's no doubt it will be a battle to make the team for everybody behind Suh and Williams.

LB Julian Peterson
LB DeAndre Levy
LB Zack Follett
LB Ashlee Palmer
LB Landon Johnson
LB Jordon Dizon
LB Vinny Ciurciu
LB Caleb Campbell
LB Lee Campbell

Last year, linebacker was viewed as the Lions' strongest set of players on defense. With veterans Larry Foote, Ernie Sims and Peterson in the starting lineup, that's not too surprising considering the amount of experience between the three. Now? Well, things are considerably more up in the air because Foote has returned to Pittsburgh and Sims was traded to Philadelphia. Younger guys like Levy and Follett are now expected to step up and be starters, and who knows if they will truly be ready. If they're not, I'm not sure the other guys at linebacker will be either, because it's really a group of young, unproven players and a few players who have bounced around the league. While the D-line does have solid depth, linebacker merely could have solid depth. Right now with so many question marks, it's not possible to say that depth will be solid for sure.

CB Dre' Bly
CB Chris Houston
CB Jonathan Wade
CB Dante Wesley
CB Eric King
CB Amari Spievey
CB Jack Williams
CB Aaron Berry
CB Jonathan Hefney

The front office spent the offseason making over the cornerback position, bringing in Houston via a trade, Bly and Wade and others via free agency and Spievey via the draft. It was a necessary step for the Lions to take if they want to be competitive in 2010, because the group of corners on the team last year was just downright mediocre. There's no guarantee that this year's cast of corners won't be mediocre as well, but on paper, things look more promising than a year ago. There's a good mix of veterans and young guys looking to prove themselves, and all Detroit needs is a few guys to really step it up. The expectation shouldn't be for the Lions' corners to be dominant or anything, but if they can limit the big plays they allow and not be a liability, then I will be happy.

S Louis Delmas
S C.C. Brown
S Ko Simpson
S Marvin White
S Marquand Manuel

The safety position really can be broken down by separating it into two categories: Delmas and everybody else. Delmas proved to be a solid player during his rookie season, and assuming he can stay healthy, he should get even better this year. The other starting spot at safety, however, is going to go to whoever makes the fewest mistakes rather than makes the most plays. The Lions have tried to find a player to start alongside Delmas at safety all offseason, but they still aren't content with the other safeties on the roster. That is why they have reportedly expressed interest in trading for Kansas City safety Jarrad Page. The players currently on the roster outside of Delmas just aren't cutting it.

K Jason Hanson
K Aaron Pettrey
P Nick Harris
LS Don Muhlbach

Barring any injuries, Hanson, Harris and Muhlbach will once again be on the 53-man roster. The only reason Pettrey is here is to take some of the load off Hanson during training camp. Every year the Lions bring in an extra kicker for that reason, and this year Pettrey will fill that role. Everybody else has been around for quite some time, especially Hanson, and isn't going anywhere.