And now, introducing the 2011 Detroit Lions lineup ... to open the 2012 season against the St. Louis Rams.
Except for injuries, there are very few changes among the starters who led the Lions to a 10-6 record and a wild-card playoff berth last season.
There will be some roster tweaking as General Manager Martin Mayhew looks for bargains and upgrades from players who either were upgrades or could be available in trades.
Coach Jim Schwartz alluded to how the Lions never stop looking to improve their talent level in his comments leading up to Friday night’s mandatory cuts to the 53-player roster maximum.
“Wherever we start during the year doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll finish with that,” Schwartz said. “There’s a lot of different ways to work your roster when it comes to the end.”
The NFL’s personnel merry-go-round and rumor mill were racing in lockstep, and the Lions got mention as a landing place for one prominent veteran.
Reports had veteran cornerback Drayton Florence, released Friday by the Broncos, signing with the Lions. Nothing final was expected until Sunday, but Florence’s starting experience works in his favor. He started 45 of 48 games the last three seasons for Buffalo.
It is no secret that the Lions have been looking to upgrade depth at running back and the defensive backfield. Both positions have been hit by injuries.
There could be roster shuffling in those areas by the time the Lions return to practice on Monday.
There were no major surprises in Friday’s cuts. With an eye to the future, here’s an analysis of the 53-player roster - with a word of caution. Martin Mayhew doesn’t stand pat.
The only change from last year involves Drew Stanton, a Lion since 2008. He signed with the Jets as a free agent and was traded to the Colts after the Jets acquired Tim Tebow.
Wide receivers: A stellar unit, with
One to watch: rookie
Defensive line: There’s talent and depth at end and tackle, and the front four should be more dominant and disruptive than last year.
Linebacker: Having the three starters returning –
Secondary: There were questions going into camp, and there still are.
Houston sprained an ankle in the third preseason game, and his status is in doubt.
Depending on how much he has left, Florence could provide immediate help, even if it’s temporary. He has good size at an even 6 feet and 193 pounds, and he has been a consistent starter the last eight seasons for the Chargers, Jaguars and Bills.
Coverage improved in the last two games. The last addition of Kasim Osgood helped.