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10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: How's the safety competition going?

From time to time during the preseason and the regular season Tim Twentyman will answer 10 good questions from his Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman."

20man: The Lions are still a little thin at defensive end. I really like starters Ziggy Ansah (obviously) and Devin Taylor, and I think Wallace Gilberry was a solid free-agent signing. After those three, there's Brandon Copeland, who is making the switch from linebacker to DE full-time, and rookie Anthony Zettel. How well Copeland will make the transition is still a bit of a question mark. Zettel, a sixth-round pick, is still learning the ropes.

I'll stay with the defensive line when talking about the deepest position. For me, it's defensive tackle. Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker are the starters. Stefan Charles, A'Shawn Robinson and Khyri Thornton have all flashed in camp/preseason.

Then there's Caraun Reid, who was a key reserve last year. Gabe Wright, a fourth-round pick by the team a season ago, is fighting for a roster spot. That's pretty good depth. There will be at least one player (maybe two) cut here who will land on another team this year.

20man: The no-huddle will be a part of this offense. How much a part will really depend on the opponent and the matchups from week to week.

Pro Football Focus tweeted out a stat recently that the Lions have been in the no-huddle 62 percent of the time this preseason (compared to just seven percent in 2015), and quarterback Matthew Stafford is 6-for-6 passing to Marvin Jones and Golden Tate when in the no huddle.

"I think if you do it right, if you do it well in general, it's a more efficient way to go about your business," Cooter said Wednesday.

That quote tells me it's here to stay.

20man: Rookie running back Dwayne Washington. Here's a seventh-round pick out of Washington who had 282 yards rushing (6.0 avg.) with three touchdowns and another 25 receptions for three touchdowns as a reserve running back in college last year.

His physical traits stood out at 6-foot-2, 226 pounds with a 4.45 40-yard dash. That terrific size and speed has been on display through the first two preseason games.

Right now, I have him making the 53-man roster as the fourth back behind Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner. He'll get more carries in the next two preseason games as the Lions give him a good look. He might even see some carries in the first half with the starters Saturday in Baltimore.

20man: I'd have to go with receiver Marvin Jones.

He and Stafford have had terrific chemistry all through camp. He's going to make some big plays in this offense. He's averaging 16.2 yards per catch in the preseason. That's sixth most among all receivers with at least five catches through the first two weeks.

He's proven to me that the Lions have a 1A and 1B situation at receiver with Jones and Tate.

20man: I've gone back and forth on this one multiple times.

I have TJ Jones as a solid No. 4 at this point. The fifth spot is up in the air.

Jeremy Kerley and Andre Roberts seem to have a little edge for the fifth spot because of their veteran status. They are both good on special teams, which will be a key component to making the roster for the fifth player.

The wildcard for me is Jace Billingsley. He just keeps making plays. He has reliable hands and is a good route runner. He has good wiggle in the open field and can make guys miss. The Patriots have always liked receivers like him, so don't forget where Lions general manager Bob Quinn came from.

I like undrafted rookie Quinshad Davis' size, and Jay Lee has real potential, but they could use a little more seasoning on the practice squad.

20man: Ameer Abdullah enters the year as the No. 1 back. I think he'll have a good year as long as the big guys upfront can open some holes for him. He's motivated by some of the struggles he had early last year, and was really coming on towards the end of his rookie season.

Abdullah is a better runner between the tackles than most people give him credit for because of his size.

Theo Riddick is still a better receiver than running back to me, but the Lions have to run him more so they don't tip their hand when he's in the game.

Zenner and Washington are bigger and run with a little more power. They seem to be No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, at this point.

Never count out Quinn looking around the league at roster cuts to see if there's someone out there who he believes is an upgrade.

But overall, I like the group as a whole. There's some versatility there.

20man: It's been a good competition throughout camp. At this point, it seems Rafael Bush is the leader in the clubhouse to start at strong safety, but he hasn't run away with the job.

Tavon Wilson has made some plays, and he took some first-team reps as recently as last week.

Isaiah Johnson is battling an undisclosed injury that's kept his off the practice field this week, which isn't great timing for the second-year player.

Killebrew isn't going to start at strong safety, but he's been working into the lineup in sub packages, and will be a key player on special teams.

If I had to guess the starting secondary right now it would be: Darius Slay (CB), Nevin Lawson (CB), Quandre Diggs (nickel CB), Glover Quin (FS) and Bush (SS).

20man: I agree that the defensive line didn't play well at all last week. They were creased a couple times, and failed to get any kind of pressure on the quarterback.

But we have to remember that there's no game planning that went into that game, or the first game in Pittsburgh. Stunts, twists and blitzes that attack weaknesses along the offensive line are a big component of the weekly game plan.

They also have yet to play a preseason game with All-Pro linebacker DeAndre Levy, who is a tackling machine. He led the NFL in solo tackles in 2014 with 117. He makes a big difference.

I wouldn't be worried just yet until we see what happens when a game plan is in the mix and Levy is on the field.

20man: If there's one player you shouldn't really worry about, it's Quin. He still led the team with four interceptions last year.

He started his 100th consecutive game Week 17 last year, including his 48th straight start since joining the Lions, and also became the first Lions defensive player to tally four-plus interceptions in back-to-back seasons since CB Dré Bly.

Interceptions are about opportunity, and there was less opportunity for Quin last year playing without Ndamukong Suh and Levy. Those two caused a lot of havoc in 2014, which led to more opportunities for Quin to get his hand on the ball.

Quin is still a very instinctive player with terrific hands. He's also a very good tackler as the last line of defense. There are other things to worry about on defense before Quin – How will Taylor adjust to being a starter? Is Kyle Van Noy ready to step into the SAM spot? Is Nevin Lawson the real deal?

20man: Professional insider? That seems so fancy. I'm just a guy who watches a lot of football.

Rudock has a lot of traits you like to see from a young player. He's really smart, he has a strong arm, his accuracy has improved steadily throughout training camp, and the moment doesn't seem too big for him.

But he also has as a long ways to go when it comes to being comfortable in this scheme. I expect the team to keep three quarterbacks and continue to develop him. Where that ultimately ends up is yet to be determined.


@ttwentyman what happens if Joey Bosa doesn't sign with Chargers? Is he a free agent? Or would they be able to trade him? — Detroit Sports (@MotownSports4) August 24, 2016

20man: I typically only answer 10 questions, hence the name of the column, but this has been in the news recently, and I wanted to clarify for those who might not know the rule.

In the case that Bosa doesn't sign with the Chargers, they hold his rights for one year until the night before next year's draft. He then goes back into the draft, and anyone can select him.

The deadline to trade Bosa has already passed. San Diego had until 30 days prior to the start of the regular season to do that.

Bosa will be ineligible to play this season if he doesn't sign by the Tuesday after Week 10.

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