1. Develop the defensive line.
Rod Marinelli was a defensive line coach his entire career before he became the Lions' head coach. The defensive line is his baby. He has said the front four must drive this franchise.
Marinelli believes Cory Redding and Shaun Rogers can be the NFL's best tandem at defensive tackle. Redding is his kind of guy - a disruptive force with a non-stop motor. But Rogers is known for not getting enough out of his immense talent. The Lions want to see a motivated Rogers - a guy who shows up in shape and works hard.
Dewayne White, a Marinelli disciple, left Tampa Bay as a free agent and is slated to start at left end. Kalimba Edwards is slated to start at right end. Edwards has long had physical tools and potential. The Lions hope Marinelli can help him finally blossom as a pass rusher.
2. Shape up the secondary.
The secondary might be the Lions' biggest weakness. When the Lions traded cornerback Dre' Bly to Denver, they parted with a guy who didn't fit the Tampa Two system and made waves in the locker room at times. But they also parted with their biggest defensive playmaker.
Stanley Wilson is slated to start in Bly's spot, and he needs to show he's ready. Travis Fisher, a veteran who played in this system in St. Louis, is just the nickel back for now, but that could change. Fernando Bryant is slated to start at the other corner. Bryant can play this system because he tackles well, but he has no interceptions as a Lion and hasn't been able to stay healthy.
Daniel Bullocks replaces Terrence Holt as the starting free safety. He needs to show he's ready to make the crucial calls in his second NFL season. The Lions also need to find some dependable depth among players like Keith Smith, Gerald Alexander and A.J. Davis.
3. Improve the offensive line.
The Lions allowed 63 sacks and finished last in rushing last season. Their offensive line was a mess, thanks to injuries, constant shuffling, poor chemistry and just plain disappointing performance.
Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola are entrenched at their positions. Backus has started 96 consecutive games at left tackle. Raiola has started 70 consecutive games at center. After that, though, everything is up in the air.
Guard Ross Verba is gone. Guard Damien Woody could be, too, if he doesn't show up in shape and perform well. His weight, conditioning and mobility have been issues. The Lions signed guard Edwin Mulitalo as a free agent and have liked the development of guard Stephen Peterman.
George Foster, who came from Denver in the Bly trade, is slated to start at right tackle. The line needs to come together quickly and stay together so it can build some cohesion.
CAMP CALENDAR: Players report July 25. Practice begins July 26. Camp breaks Aug. 19.