Quarterbacks always carry the heaviest burden, and that is no different for Stafford.
But any team that makes a serious run at a division championship and playoff berth must get contributions from the depth of the roster. Players who step up and contribute when given larger roles are critical.
Coach Jim Schwartz looked forward to training camp for some key position battles to be settled. Players in those categories put themselves in position to compete with their work in the offseason, including the mandatory mini-camp, but the real work to solidify positions starts in training camp.
"That's where the real competition will occur," Schwartz said at the end of mini-camp. "Training camp, training camp practices, our padded practices, our preseason games -- that's where those jobs will be won."
Following are eight individuals or position groups that are prime candidates to lead a revival from last season's 4-12 record:
Reiff started one game when Backus was out with an injury. Reiff also got substantial playing time as an extra blocker. He is a tenacious blocker who has added a good 10-12 pounds of muscle.
Left tackle is a glamour position because the quarterback needs his blind side protected, but the right tackle has to keep pass-rushers out of Stafford's face.
The battle between Hilliard and Fox could go down to the last preseason game.
However, as Schwartz said in mini-camp, Fairley hasn't been available often enough because of injuries, and questions remain about his physical condition.
In the offseason, Fairley said he and Suh formed the NFL's best defensive tackle tandem.
The 2013 season could well define what Fairley is, not what he has the potential to become.
Pettigrew should be a big, inviting mid-range target for Stafford, but he has to reduce the drops and turnovers that have plagued him.
Palmer made his mark with the Lions as a hardcore performer on special teams. It's his turn to move up.
6. Young cornerbacks: The Lions have their best collection of young cornerbacks in years, with rookie
Greenwood, from Martin Luther King High in Detroit and Albion College, was injured in the offseason last year and missed his rookie season. It's a big jump from a Division III school to competing in the pros, but Greenwood has eye-catching ability. He bears watching.
Bush is the leader of the running backs, but Bell can build on last year's performance as a runner/receiver who is capable of big plays. And he can help on special teams.
8. John Bonamego: The new special teams coordinator established his reputation in previous stops at Jacksonville, Green Bay, New Orleans and Miami.
There were too many breakdowns last year, especially early, and not enough production in the return game to overcome them.