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Tim and Mike: What positions will have the most competition?

Posted May 15, 2013

Tim and Mike discuss the learning experiences Lions' rookies will encounter, who they look forward to seeing during organized team activities and which positions pose the most intriguing competition battles

In a sense, this has been graduation week for the Lions' 2013 rookie class.

After last week's three-day rookie camp, they began workouts this week with the veterans, with the first organized team activities (OTAs) starting next week.

What part of the transition will make the biggest impression the rookies?

Mike: The first thing they should notice is the experience and confidence of being around veteran players. Take the offensive linemen as an example. Rob Sims and Dominic Raiola have two decades of combined experience. They know everything about the daily routine of preparing for a season.

Larry Warford tweeted out Monday about working out with the vets for the first time. I'm sure he's finding out soon that they know how to go about their business and get things done without wasting time on things that don't matter.

For the rookies at every position, every day is a learning experience.

Tim: The rookies will have to adjust quickly to the pace of a veteran practice. Everything is faster now. The way they have to perform in drills, picking up scheme and just the overall pace of practice is faster. The rookies have to pick things up quick because the veterans want to get in and get to work and won’t have much patience for rookies lagging.

This is a team coming off a disappointing 4-12 season. I’ve talked to many veterans who say they can feel the difference between this offseason and last year's. There’s more focus, and the rookies need to catch up quick.

That should serve them well the next few weeks and allow them to hit the ground running come training camp.

Speaking of OTAs, where will your eyes gravitate to first when they open the sessions to the media?

Mike: Easy choice. The first player I'll look for is No. 21 -- Reggie Bush. It's only practice, and without contact, but I want to see how he moves. The Lions have never signed a free agent who arrived with as much star power, and there's been a buzz since Bush signed here. This is the first time we'll see him practice, and I want to see every second of it -- even if he's just resting on a knee between drills.

I'm expecting a good show in the fall. First, I want to see the rehearsal.

Tim: Reggie Bush will certainly get my attention, too, but I’m also very interested to see how the offensive line is shaping out. It’s very early in the process, but who’s getting the nod and where early on? Who between Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard takes first-team reps at right tackle? Do they rotate that on a daily basis? Is Larry Warford at right guard from Day 1? How will the team split up the center reps? Does Riley Reiff look more comfortable at left tackle?

There are a lot of questions along the offensive line and we’ll start to get a few answers starting next week.

Where do you see the biggest competition for playing time, at least initially?

Mike: I wouldn't worry about Riley Reiff being more comfortable at left tackle. To me, that's where he should have been all along. I never agreed that he might have been better off at right guard. He played left tackle most of the time at Iowa and his one start last season was at left tackle when Jeff Backus got hurt.

A couple other things to watch in the OTAs involve players who've been injured. Where do Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles stand in their rehab process? Same for Brandon Pettigrew, who ended the season on the injured list. Will rookie cornerback Darius Slay be recovered enough from what appears to have been minor knee surgery to get some work in the drills?

And then there's Matthew Stafford. I just thought I'd throw that in there. He hasn't missed a game the last two seasons.

Did I miss anything?

Tim: Is there anything left?

Speaking of Darius Slay, it’ll be very interesting to watch the right cornerback battle play out. My guess is Bentley gets the nod initially, but Slay will be right there with him every step of the way.

I have to admit I’m kind of curious to see Chris Greenwood there, too. How does that length translate to the field?

We’ll also get our first look at the new safety tandem of Louis Delmas and Glover Quin. Those two are keys to success on defense this year.

Mike: There's always something left when you're talking about pro football. It's like former Ravens coach Brian Billick said -- America's favorite sport is the NFL regular season, and the second favorite sport is the NFL offseason.

Louis DelmasS Louis Delmas

This is the first time in a long time that there is interest in the punter, simply because the Leos drafted Sam Martin in the fifth round. Draft a punter? Heavens!!! I understand the reaction, though. My advice to Sam is that if he's ever going to shank a punt, make sure it isn't the first one -- even in practice.

I remember how the fans booed Joey Harrington when he threw an incomplete pass in a free workout at Ford Field.

The first punt doesn't have to be long. Just make sure it's between the lines.

Simple. Just like one of your drives.

Tim: I'm not sure whether that was a compliment or not. Don’t worry Mike, I won’t tell anyone how you tried to get me to give you three strokes on the back nine.

Martin will be fine. I wouldn’t worry so much about shanks if I was him than I would be Blake Clingan trying to win a spot on the roster. Both punters have big legs.

I’ll do a little training camp foreshadowing here to help all the fans out. Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah is going to jump offside at some point. Darius Slay is going to be beaten deep at least once and I can almost guarantee that Ndamukong Suh or Nick Fairley is going to get the better of Larry Warford at some point.

We all expect these rookies to contribute right away, but let’s not forget they’re still rookies.

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