Optimism or reality? Lions camp observations

With all the optimism the Detroit Lions are spouting, what is the reality? There are some encouraging signs. But there are some troubling signs, too. Early camp observations from Allen Park inside ...

ALLEN PARK -- With all the optimism the Lions are spouting, what is the reality?

There are some encouraging signs. Right guard Damien Woody lost a lot of weight, took a pay cut and reclaimed his starting spot. Defensive end Kalimba Edwards says he realizes he has to produce or he will be gone. The secondary -- perhaps the team's biggest question mark -- has looked sharp early.

But there are some troubling signs, too. Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers is overweight and being brought along slowly because of a bad knee. Running back Kevin Jones is on schedule in his recovering from a serious foot injury, but he won't be ready to practice for a while. Left guard Edwin Mulitalo is rusty and overweight after recovering from an arm injury.

It doesn't help that wide receiver Calvin Johnson isn't in camp. Johnson, the second overall pick in this year's draft, might be waiting for Oakland to sign quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 pick. Russell and Johnson both play skill positions, and though Russell went No. 1 and Johnson No. 2, Johnson was widely considered the best player in the draft.

"No question about that," said Johnson's agent, Bus Cook. "We're certainly not sitting here waiting for the Russell deal. But it certainly wouldn't hurt if that got done."

There aren't many battles for starting spots. Teddy Lehman is pushing Paris Lenon at middle linebacker. Travis Fisher could push Stanley Wilson at corner. But that's about it.

The most intriguing battle might be for the backup quarterback job. The Lions don't have anyone with any real experience after Jon Kitna. Drew Stanton, a second-round pick this year, will be the No. 3. That leaves Dan Orlovsky and J.T. O'Sullivan. Orlovsky has a year in this offense, but O'Sullivan, who signed before camp, has picked it up quickly.


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