Competition at right tackle expected to be fierce

Posted Jun 14, 2014

The competition that seems to be shaping up at right tackle has kept all those involved on their toes.

The competition that seems to be shaping up at right tackle has kept all those involved “on their toes” veteran Corey Hilliard says.

Cornelius LucasT Cornelius Lucas (Photo: AP Images)

Hilliard, second-year player LaAdrian Waddle and undrafted rookie Cornelius Lucas will all throw their hat into the competition come training camp.

“Competition always brings out the best in everybody,” said Waddle, who won the job midseason a year ago and ended up starting eight games at right tackle.  

“If Lucas has a question or I have a question and ask Corey (Hilliard), he’s going to help me with that kind of stuff. We look out for each other, but at the same time we’re always competing and always trying to put our best effort forward.”

That has apparently reverberated through the entire offensive line room, where there are expected to be a number of different competitions for playing time and roster spots in the fall.

“Each of these guys were kind of put through their paces from a strength and conditioning standpoint all during the spring,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “We take measurables at the beginning and then at the end. The improvement amongst the group was extraordinary.

"I mean, they did a great job. You can tell that they’re taking care of their bodies, watching what they eat because our strength gains were great. Guys that needed to gain a little bit more muscle, gained the muscle that they needed, guys that needed to trim down a little bit, did so.”

The offensive line was one of the bigger surprises for the Lions last year. A question mark heading into training camp turned out to be the most consistent unit on the whole team throughout the year.

They aren’t satisfied with living on the success of a season ago, though. There’s plenty of room for improvement, especially from young players like Waddle and second-year guard Larry Warford.

“Just keep working on my sets,” Waddle said when asked about his focus this offseason. “Just as far as my balance in my sets and how I finish, my body position at the top of my sets. Just keep on working on little things like that. Even in the run game, run steps and just fine-tuning everything.”

It’s that “fine-tuning” he hopes will win him that starting right tackle spot, but the competition is expected to be fierce.

“You have to come ready to work every day,” Hilliard said. “You slack off and you’ll be in trouble.”