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10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: How are the rookies looking so far?

From time to time during training camp Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: There have been three rookies who've stood out to me the first couple days.

I'll start with second-round running back D’Andre Swift, who has been almost un-coverable for the linebackers in pass drills. He's a smooth route runner and easily gains separation with his speed, quickness and suddenness. He's shown to be a patient runner too. So far the moment doesn't seem too big for him.

Third-round guard Jonah Jackson has fit right in with the first-team offense at right guard. He's held his own in pass-rush drills against the defensive linemen. He showed some athleticism Tuesday pulling around the left tackle and pancaking veteran linebacker Reggie Ragland in a rush drill. He's been good.

The third for me has been fifth-round pick Quintez Cephus, the wide receiver out of Wisconsin. He's not a burner, but he runs really good routes as a youngster. Anything thrown in his general direction the first couple days, he's comes down with. What a terrific situation for him to come into with three veteran receivers ahead of him, all of whom have been willing to take him under their wing.

20man: Good question. This one made me think for a minute.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is an obvious one on offense. He's the glue for that side of the ball that keeps everything together. I've honestly never heard a teammate say a bad thing about him, even off the record, in the 11 years he's been in Detroit.

A young guy emerging into that role on offense is center Frank Ragnow. That's a really close o-line room, and Ragnow has the respect of everyone for the way he stepped up as a leader early.

Looking at the defensive side of the ball, I think a young guy who is emerging into a real leadership role is safety Tracy Walker. Not just on the field, but also off of it with some of the social justice initiatives the players are passionate about. He's a budding young star in this league, you heard it here first.

20man: Jamie Collins Sr. has already shown that ability early in camp. He's a terrific athlete. One of the things that's impressed me early on with him is how much ground he covers almost effortlessly.

Collins had three interceptions last year (he brought one back for a touchdown) and had one of the highest cover grades among linebackers last season. He does a lot of things well, but covering tight ends and backs, and even playing some in the slot, is certainly one of his strengths.

20man: From the outside looking in at practice, the defense doesn't look much different from a scheme standpoint. New defensive coordinator Cory Undlin will obviously have some influence and put some of his touches on it, but the core principles of being multiple upfront and playing a lot of man coverage still appear to be in place.

The Lions seem to be banking on new personnel, which could be as many as six new starters on that side of the ball Week 1. Having a few better fits for the scheme was the strategy this offseason. That certainly seems to be the case early on, especially with players like Nick Williams, Collins Sr. and Duron Harmon.

20man: I've been very consistent when talking about Jeff Okudah leading up to camp. The kid is going to make some mistakes and it's going to take a little time to adjust to the speed and athleticism in the NFL, especially without having a typical spring and summer of OTAs and minicamp to help with that adjustment.

There's pressure that comes with being the No. 3 overall pick. The Lions are working him into the mix. There is some technique stuff from watching 1-on-1 drills early on he needs to clean up.

It's been two days. I'm really not too worried about him. He's fits the athletic profile and everything I hear from coaches and teammates is that the kid loves to work. I suspect he'll be fine.

20man: I look at two games and they both kick off the season. I believe this team needs to get off to a good start and make a statement early on. That starts Week 1 vs. Chicago. Change the narrative surrounding this team from a national perspective Week 1. Get off to a good start. Defend home turf, and show the division Week 1 you're for real.

Then, come right back the next week and play well in Green Bay, who's been a powerhouse in the NFC for as long as Aaron Rodgers has been healthy. Go on the road and show the defending NFC North champs you're here to compete.

I think the first two games are critical this season. They're both division games, and the Lions have an opportunity to put themselves in a good spot where they're not having to play catchup like they have in the past.

20man: I fully expect the team to bring in a couple players upfront along the defensive line in the coming days, especially with the loss of rookie seventh-round pick Jashon Cornell to a serious left leg injury on Tuesday.

Detroit was already short there with Kevin Strong dealing with an undisclosed injury early in camp and John Atkins opting out of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I like the mix of Danny Shelton, Williams and Da'Shawn Hand inside, and you hope John Penisini can give them something, but they need more depth there.

20man: Like I mentioned above, Walker is an emerging star coming into his own. He's got one of the starting spots locked down after leading the team last year with 100 tackles. He can play in the box and has terrific range in the pass game.

I'd expect Harmon to start next to him. He's got experience in this system and was brought in this offseason to play a bigger role. Will Harris is also getting some run with the first unit after a solid rookie season a year ago.

I actually feel pretty good about the skill set and depth the Lions have at safety with those three. Don't be surprised if we see all three on the field at times in certain packages.

20man: The Lions' offense likes to distribute the ball all around. They're not going to force-feed one player. Just look at last year. The Lions were the only team in the NFL that had three receivers catch at least 60 passes for 675 yards. There's also an expectation that second-year tight end T.J. Hockenson sees a significant uptick in targets and catches.

That being said, Swift has shown an ability early on in camp to be a real weapon in space in the passing game. J.D. McKissic had 34 catches last year playing a mainly third-down role. With the expectation to see Swift getting considerably more reps than McKissic did last year, maybe even playing a big third-down role too, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility for him to reach 50-plus catches.

I don't think he'll reach the 81 Kamara had last year, just because of what I mentioned previously with the distribution of the ball, but 50-plus is certainly obtainable.

20man: As the Lions do with all their receivers, especially their young receivers, they cross train them at every receiver spot. That's good practice just in case the team suffers injuries at the position, and it's also good for development to know every spot and the route tree associated with those different receiver spots.

So far in camp, I've seen Cephus line up both in the slot and outside, and I'd expect that to continue moving forward.

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