Cook: Training Camp Battles - Wide Receiver

With Roy and Calvin demanding the top two receiver slots, pricey vets Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey will battle for the leftovers. Columnist and blogger James Cook reviews his first of a series of Detroit Lions training camp battles.

1) Wide Receiver

Interesting that WR is one of the positions that the Lions seem to be set at.

That'll happen when you throw four first-round picks into the position in a five-year span.

Luckily, MM resisted this itch this year.

So, the Lions go into the year with yet another new offense to learn, although this one is -- aerially, at least -- similar to the one that Mad Martz ran last year (yes, I realize putting the words "Martz" and "ran" in the same sentence is a rarity).

Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson as the top two is a no-brainer.

With the likelihood of seeing more fullbacks and tight ends on the field this season, the days of four-WR sets are going the way of Eddie Drummond.

So that leaves Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald battling for the leftovers. Two productive (and not very big) slot receivers, in an offense that will only sometimes employ a 3rd receiver.

That's a nice situation to be in, having some depth and protection against an injury.

But it's also a little expensive, given that McDonald (counting $1.675M against cap) and Furrey ($2.9M) are not exactly cheap, and neither is much of a return man.

But they are here, which makes WR on what is supposed to be a newly-minted running team one of the most sound positions from a personnel standpoint. Interesting.

The Lions will keep a fifth WR and maybe even a sixth if things fall right on special teams. That leaves draft pick Ken Moore battling with DeVale Ellis, Brandon Middleton, Reggie Ball, Ron Bellamy and John Standeford. Not much of a battle there. The top two are obviously Moore and Ellis, both of whom have return expierience. Ellis is coming off a wasted year in IR, however, so it waits to be seen how his knee will rebound.

If Ellis is healthy, he and Moore could make for an effective return corps for the Lions, something the team has lacked since the days of Drummond's prime.

Position breakdown:
Starters: Williams, Johnson
Top backups: Furrey, McDonald
Reserves/special teams: Moore, Ellis
Longshots: Bellamy, Middleton, Ball, Standeford Practice squad candidates: All the longshots

Up next: Defensive secondary

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