Jim Schwartz says Detroit Lions prepared for changes along offensive line

Posted Feb 21, 2013

After three seasons of near-perfect consistency along the offensive line, the Detroit Lions will see change in 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- For the Detroit Lions offensive line to remain as intact as it has for the last three seasons is quite unique considering the ever-changing landscape of the NFL.

Jeff Backus, Rob Sims, Dominic Raiola, Stephen Peterman and Gosder Cherilus started 46 of a possible 48 games together the last three seasons.

While that kind of continuity is nice when we’re talking about an above-average unit, it was certainly time for a change heading into 2013.

"We're prepared for just about anything as far as turnover on the offensive line, or turnover anywhere," Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said when asked about the potential for significant turnaround upfront.

"I think that we've drafted on the offensive line, last year with Riley Reiff, and a couple years before that with Jason Fox. We've developed those guys and if we can plug them in, we're prepared to do it. All of those guys are guys that we think a lot of and we think that they can go do the job if called upon."

The Lions released Peterman last month, and - depending on the future plans of Backus and the free agent status of Cherilus - Reiff and Fox could be counted on heavily in 2013.

It's a pretty safe bet to pencil in Reiff as a starter at either tackle or guard.

It’s also certainly in the cards for the Lions to draft an offensive linemen - tackle or guard - in April's draft, allowing for even more change.

Left tackles Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are possibilities for the Lions with the No. 5 pick. Alabama guard Chance Warmack, who is highly touted, might be there for them at No. 5, as well.

However it eventually shakes out, changes are coming.

"Our offensive line gave up 26 sacks last year," Schwartz said. "For the amount that we threw the ball (740), our offensive line did some pretty good things.

Bill Nagy

"But change is part of life in the NFL. It’s something that we all have to deal with."

Schwartz said the health of guard Bill Nagy, and the development of Rodney Austin, will go a long way to deciding potentially more changes along the line next season.

"Health has been an issue with him, not just as Wisconsin, but in his rookie year in Dallas and also coming into the second year," Schwartz said of Nagy.

"It's going to be one of those things that's going to be part of his evaluation. He's had a good rehab, he's been with us a great deal, he's from Cleveland, so he was with us a great deal during the season, not just rehabbing, but also going to meetings and things like that.

"He had a good chance to learn our system and he's had a good rehab; but, until you get back on the field, you never know, so that has to be taken into consideration."

Changes are coming upfront for the Lions, that much is certain.