ALLEN PARK - The Lions officially wrapped their off-season activity on Thursday and will break until the July 27th start of training camp.
New head coach Rod Marinelli and coordinators Mike Martz and Donnie Henderson put special emphasis on getting the Lions players conditioning, tempo and effort up as part of installing their philosophy.
Martz, in particular focused on the quarterback throwing the ball to a spot on the field, rather than trying to read the receivers break. Receivers were instructed to get to that particular spot no matter what. They were drilled in the art of running precision routes, rather than reading the defense and taking what it gives.
Running back Kevin Jones appears to be the bell cow headed into the fall training camp session, running a clear #1 to backup Arlen Harris, while Artose Pinner, Jones main competition a season ago has been almost non-existent.
The offensive line under position coach Larry Beightol looks to be Jeff Backus, Ross Verba, Dominic Raiola, Damien Woody and Rex Tucker. Last year's starter Kelly Butler appears to be struggling early with newcomers Courtney VanBuren, Barry Stokes, Rick DeMulling and rookie Fred Matua among a big group in reserve.
Roy Williams appears head-and-shoulder above the rest of the wideouts, with free agent signee Corey Bradford running ahead of Charles Rogers, Mike Furrey and Glenn Martinez. Rookie Devale Ellis and Paris Hamilton appear to be candidates for the practice squad while Mike Williams and Scottie Vines will have to earn roster spots. Eddie Drummond is a candidate for the slot if rookie Brian Calhoun can take him away from some of the return duties.
Once healthy, Boss Bailey appears headed for the middle flanked by Teddy Lehman and rookie Ernie Sims. Currently Detroit is running Paris Lenon with James Davis and Alex Lewis. Those three all appear to have backup jobs on lock with Donte Curry the returning captain of the special teams units.
The corners will be Dre' Bly and Fernando Bryant, who has been injured each of the last two seasons. But the real competition for the remaining positions in the secondary is expected to be furious. Rookie Daniel Bullocks will likely emerge as the free safety next to Kenoy Kennedy with Idrees Bashir, Terrence Holt and Marcus Demps battling for maybe one roster spot. Holdovers Keith Smith, Stanley Wilson, Vernon Fox and Jon McGraw are all looking for a place on the team.
There are likely going to be some surprises and it wouldn't be shocking to see four or five more name veterans run from the team as Marinelli gives the team a personality makeover. The coach simply won't tolerate underachiving or malingerers.
Effort, hustle and production will be more valued than talent. Marinelli and his staff are working overtime to get the most from each player on the roster and those who produce will be rewarded.