Tom Lewand: There's no 'honeymoon period' for the Lions' young players

Posted Jul 17, 2013

The Lions expect their first- and second-year players to to step up to the plate and contribute right away

The Lions are going to need a large majority of their first- and second-year players to step in and contribute right away this season.

Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand probably said it best Wednesday in an interview with WXYT that there's no "honeymoon period" for the team's young players.

"Everybody has to contribute," Lewand said. "There is typically a leap that takes place between the rookie year and the second year, and you see some guys who produced some promising results, but too small of a sample size."

Cornerback Bill Bentley would be one of those players. He flashed some playmaking ability early on as a rookie but a shoulder injury limited him to just four games.

Chris Greenwood was impressing coaches in OTAs last season before an abdominal injury forced him to miss training camp and the entire 2012 season.

Riley Reiff and Ryan Broyles, who were the team's top two draft choices last year, are expected to have big roles this season.

Both Tahir Whitehead (fifth round) and Travis Lewis (seventh round) are fighting for the open starting linebacker spot – along with veteran Ashlee Palmer – in their second season.

"We're expecting that those guys step up and contribute," Lewand said. "We expect not only a lot of that class (2012), but this year's class, too.

"Those guys are going to be expected to step in and contribute right away, just as they were in mini-camp and OTAs. They were thrown right into the mix."

Defensive end Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, cornerback Darius Slay and guard Larry Warford could start right away for the Lions. A few of their other drafted and undrafted rookies could also find themselves in important roles.

"When Darius Slay got out there he was thrown right in with the big boys (this offseason), there were no training wheels on him when he came off his little meniscus scope," said Lewand.

The Lions have a good mix of veterans on the roster, but the young talent needs to step up to the plate and be good right away if the Lions are going to get back to their winning ways of 2011.