Who needs a particularly good offseason for Lions?

Posted Apr 8, 2014

The Lions, along with six other teams with new head coaches, get a two week jump on the rest of the league by starting their offseason training program Monday

Players were back in Allen Park Monday as the team began Phase 1 of their voluntary offseason training program.

The Lions are one of seven teams that get to begin workouts two weeks early because they have a new coaching staff.

Head coach Jim Caldwell told reporters at the NFL Annual Meetings in Orlando that every player on the roster has a clean slate and will be given an opportunity to make a first impression.

Here’s a look at some players who could certainly benefit from a good offseason.

Matthew Stafford, QB

For the first time as a professional, Stafford has a new head coach, offensive coordinator (Joe Lombardi) and quarterback coach (Jim Bob Cooter). Stafford is a smart guy, so picking up a new system shouldn’t be a problem at all, but it will be an adjustment. He needs to learn these new coaches just as they’re learning his strengths and weaknesses.

Mikel Leshoure, RB

General manager Martin Mayhew is hoping Leshoure can find a role in Lombardi’s offense.

“I haven’t had an interest in trading Mikel,” Mayhew said at last month’s owners meetings. “I want to see him come in and perform and be the player he can be.”

Lombardi comes over from New Orleans, who had four running backs carry the ball at least 53 times in 2013. Leshoure isn't going to jump Reggie Bush or Joique Bell on the depth chart, but he could find a role. He's now a couple years removed from an Achilles tendon injury and a good spring could help get him into the rotation.

Kellen MooreQB Kellen Moore (Photo: AP Images)

Darius Slay, CB

Slay had an up and down rookie campaign as he dealt with knee injuries and inconsistencies. He ended the season on a very strong note against Minnesota, however, and is expected to come in and compete for a starting spot. Slay has the size and speed the Lions hope will fit nicely into new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s scheme.

Nick Fairley, DT

The Lions have challenged Fairley to have a big 2014 season by not picking up the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. Mayhew is hoping Fairley is motivated to have a big season by the prospects of potentially becoming a free agent in 2015.

“It’s an opportunity for him to go out and perform his best this offseason, perform his best during the season and hopefully it helps him become the best player he can possibly be,” Mayhew said.

“I think it’s going to be an incentive for him to have an outstanding offseason and an outstanding season. That’s what I want more than anything else.”

Chris Houston, CB

Houston had his worst season in Detroit last year since joining the team before the 2010 season. It also came on the heels of signing a five-year, $25 million contract last offseason.

Houston lost his confidence last year, and a cornerback with a confidence problem is a big issue. The Lions need him to be more like the player he was in 2011, when he led the team with five interceptions.

Kellen Moore, QB

The Lions signed Moore following the 2012 draft, but he has yet to play in a regular-season game.

Moore is as smart as they come, but the team recently signed veteran Dan Orlovsky to compete for the backup job, so they're obviously keeping their options open. Moore could certainly benefit from a good spring ahead of next month’s NFL draft, when there’s always the potential for the Lions to draft a quarterback, too.

Jason Jones, DE

Jones missed most of last season after rupturing a patellar tendon in his knee. He told the Monday after the season ended for the Lions that he planned to start running in February.

How well he returns from that injury will be one of the keys for the Lions defensive line this year. Jones can play both inside and outside, which gives Austin options.

Chris Greenwood, CB

Like Slay, Greenwood came on strong at the end of last season. He finally got an opportunity to play late into his second season and showed real promise. Greenwood is big and fast and now has a little bit of experience under his belt. He could be a real wildcard for the Lions secondary this offseason.