10 Questions with Twentyman: Rating the secondary, surprise performers, special teams competition

Posted Aug 4, 2013

With over a week of camp in the books, Tim Twentyman answers 10 questions regarding what he's seen so far

Sunday marked the team's ninth practice of training camp. We're now more than a week into camp and the first preseason game vs. the Jets is less than a week away.

I've received some good questions through my Twitter account @ttwentyman over the last week and felt like nine days worth of practice would help me better answer some of them.

So, here we go. As always, feel free to disagree.

Let's say the secondary was a 4/10 last year, what would you rate it now? Sean Morris (@BrunoBoysMorris)

20man: I'd give it a solid seven right now without seeing any preseason games.

Glover Quin has really stood out and that's where we're going to see the biggest improvement with this group. He can flat out cover. He can cover tight ends, he knocked one away from Ryan Broyles in the slot Sunday and he can cover backs out of the backfield. He's always in the right spot and he makes plays.

I also like how Bill Bentley came back in year two. He's also made a lot of plays. I think he excels at defending the shorter routes and that's why he's fitting in so well in the slot.

Houston has looked good and rookie Darius Slay and Ron Bartell will battle it out for that other corner spot. Both have played well.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford told me he's seeing more man coverage than he ever has from the defense, meaning defensive coaches have a lot of confidence in those guys' ability to cover at this point.

Jake Scott and Dylan Gandy have most first team reps?  What happened to Larry Warford!? I was excited for him. Chad Reeb (@reeber93)

20man: You still can be excited, he shared first-team reps with Scott today and he's had his fair share of time with the first unit thus far, but he's a rookie. There are times over the last nine practices he's looked like a rookie.

I think Warford is going to be a very good player, but it's going to take a little time. Whether that's a couple more weeks or a couple more months will be determined better in the preseason.

I will say this; Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley can make anyone look bad in practice, so the preseason is important to see where he and all the other right guard candidates are.

What's your take on Stafford not being as sharp this camp? Nathan Arnett (@Natelit)

20man: I think it's really a non-issue, Nathan.

I think we're seeing more incomplete passes than years past because the secondary is a little better and they're playing a lot more man coverage. It's pretty easy to complete passes against zone coverage in training camp.

The offense might be completing fewer passes than years past, but they are taking advantage of the man coverage and pushing the ball down the field more. I'm seeing bigger plays down the field.

Like I've said before -- and I don't think it's an exaggeration -- there would be approximately 20 things on my “worried about list" before I got to Matthew Stafford.

Who has been the surprise of camp so far? Mat Cool (@ThanksthomCool)

20man: I'll give you mine on offense and defense.

On offense, I think Reggie Bush has been everything he billed to be and more. He catches the ball like a receiver and can get to full speed in only a couple steps. He's going to be very good in this offense.

I'd also say receiver Patrick Edwards has been impressive. He has very sure hands and is providing Stafford and Co. another deep threat in practice.

On defense, cornerback Bill Bentley has really been good inside, in my opinion. He really fits well in the middle and the slot receivers I have spoken with have been pretty impressed, including Nate Burleson.

I also think Suh and Fairley have been unblockable at times. If they stay healthy, look out.

Tim at what point do u cut your losses (with Delmas)?  Why even resign him if he has to be coddled? BigLou (@Loucifer99)

20man: I think coddled was a poor choice of words. Managed is probably better and you do it if you're the Lions because he's one of your best players when he's on the field.

Look, the Lions signed him to a pretty modest deal that had a lot of incentives included in it. When Delmas has been on the field with Quin during training camp they've looked very good together. Delmas played a lot of reps on Sunday.

His knee issues aren't going away, but he's such a good player why not try to manage it if you're the Lions?

I know it's early but how are my #Lions Kickoff & Punt coverage Teams looking thus far? Jason Meyer (@Ajmeyer28)

20man: It's hard to tell because they aren't live with any of this stuff, but I will say I like the makeup of the group.

The team isn't going to make the same mistakes it made last year in putting too many young and inexperienced players on the unit early in the season. They had Quin on the kickoff unit Sunday.

Guys like Ashlee Palmer, Montell Owens, John Wendling and Matt Willis are important veterans who know what they're doing. They've also had some talented players like Slay and Bentley, who will have roles on defense, do some of it. No one seems to be off limits and I like that.

Better chance to make the team. Fuller or Edwards? JJ (@JJosef13)

20man: Again, some of this is a little premature without any preseason games under their belt, but just going by reps and groupings, Edwards seems a more likely choice right now.

He's putting good practice on top of good practice and has been a consistent presence on the first team offense in three-wide sets. He simply looks more polished at this point, which is expected.

Fuller is a rookie and is raw, which the Lions knew he would be when they drafted him in the sixth round, and he has to keep getting better. Fuller is getting a lot of third- and fourth-team reps right now, but that could change with a couple good preseason games.

That competition for the fourth and fifth receiver spots is a long way from over.

Is Martin likely to beat out Clingan or is it close? Joe Friedli (@joefriedli)

20man: Both players have a big leg, which is a pleasure to watch. I think Martin has been a little better at the shorter directional punts and the inside the 20 punts. That's just my observation.

Let's not forget the Lions spent a fifth-round pick on Martin, too, that will always give him the edge over a free agent signing.

Clingan would have to be head-and-shoulders better in the preseason.

In your opinion, who wins the battle of the kickers? Akers or Rugland? Nate Williams (@TherealNate13)

20man: One Nathaniel Burleson might disagree with your Twitter handle there Nate.

As for your question, I'll say this, if the Lions needed a 48-yard field goal tomorrow to beat the Vikings late in the fourth quarter, who would you want taking it?

I know what my answer is. The guy with experience and six Pro Bowls under his belt.

There is no doubt Rugland has a strong leg and he's a great story. He's an even better person and has become a well-liked player in the locker room, but for this team, and this season, the experience Akers provides probably gives him an edge right now.

I say right now because Rugland has a shot to win the job in the preseason and could make it a really hard decision with some deep field goals and solid kickoffs. He's been better than I expected him to be. It's very much an open competition, but, in the end, I still think it's Akers.

Rugland will kick in the NFL, though, and it could be as soon as this year.

How's Ziggy been looking so far? nathandel (@delly800)

20man: Ziggy has flashed here and there, which is what I'd expect from a player who hasn't played a lot of football.

Athletically, everything is there. He hasn't disappointed at all on that front.

That could be how it goes for Ziggy. He'll flash here and there and make some spectacular plays and then maybe have some stretches were he has to figure things out against a technically sound tackle.

If Suh and Fairley continue to be as dominant as they are right now, that will go a long way to helping Ziggy.