Rob Sims expects changes on the offensive line in 2013

Posted Jan 19, 2013

It’s not inconceivable that four new faces could join left guard Rob Sims along the offensive line next season.

For three seasons, Detroit Lions offensive linemen have used the word "continuity" when talking about their unit.

Over that span, the Lions have essentially started the same combination of Jeff Backus, Rob Sims, Dominic Raiola, Stephen Peterman and Gosder Cherilus.

Out of those 49 games (including the playoffs), those five have started 43 together.

That, in all likelihood, will come to an end in 2013. It's not inconceivable that four new faces could join left guard Rob Sims along the line next season.

Jeff Backus

The Lions are due for a change upfront in an attempt to get younger and more consistent production, especially when it comes to the run game.

Cherilus is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Backus is entering the final year of a two-year contract he signed before last season, and hasn't made any public declarations of his intentions.

Raiola and Peterman -- both entering the final season of their contracts -- count over $9 million together against the cap in 2013.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew told reporters after the season that quarterback Matthew Stafford saw too much pressure up the middle of the offensive line, which indicates he's looking to at least upgrade there.

First-round pick Riley Reiff will likely start at either tackle or guard next season and the team will also look to get fourth-year tackle Jason Fox into the mix, as well as guard/center Bill Nagy (spent 2012 on injured reserve).

That's not including any free agents or rookies the team adds to the roster via free agency or the draft.

Sims understands the realities of roster change after a 4-12 season.

"I think we have a good group up front, but things happen after 4-12," he said after the season. "On a football team there's going to be change year-in and year-out. We'll just see. We'll deal with that when we come to it."

There's already been change at the coaching level, with assistant offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn replacing Geroge Yarno as the offense line position coach.

The Lions have trusted Washburn with helping to usher some of the expected changes.

According to Stats, LLC, here are some key stats for the six offensive linemen who started at least one game for the Lions this season:

PlayerStartsFalse Start Pen.Holding Pen.Sacks Allowed
Riley Reiff 1 1 2 0
Jeff Backus 15 2 2 1.5
Rob Sims 16 2 3 1.5
Dominic Raiola 16 2 0 4.5
Stephen Peterman 16 1 2 2.5
Gosder Cherilus 16 5 2 5