10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Why keep only 4 wide receivers?

During 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: If I had to name just one, I'd say the defense.

I think the defense has a chance to be pretty good if they stay healthy. I see the potential for a Pro Bowl-caliber player at every position in Ziggy Ansah (DE), Haloti Ngata (DT), DeAndre Levy (LB), Darius Slay (CB) and Glover Quin (S).

Ngata is healthy and much more comfortable in his transition from a 3-4 to Teryl Austin's 4-3, and I think that's going to make a big difference up front.

We all know what Levy can do when healthy. He's a legit three-down player at the WILL. Slay has gotten better every year, and Quin is Quin.

It's all about the young guys for me. If Devin Taylor (DE), Kyle Van Noy (LB), Nevin Lawson (CB) and Tavon Wilson (SS) do their jobs, this has the makings of a good defense with a terrific coordinator pulling the strings.

20man: You really have to take the preseason for what it is – a glorified scrimmage.

There is no game planning, and most of the things shown from a scheme perspective are pretty vanilla.

Certainly, there are trends in the preseason that can raise an eyebrow, like the first-team offense not scoring a touchdown in nine possessions, but I don't worry about too much that goes on in the preseason from a team standpoint. It's more about individual performance and development than winning and losing.

Always keep in mind that the Lions were 4-0 in the preseason in 2008. We all know how that season ended. That's proof you can't judge a team by the preseason.

@ttwentyman what do you think the purpose is for only carrying 4 receivers? #10Questions — Devon Plecas (@Dragon_BallD) September 7, 2016

20man: A little surprising, but I think one factor might be some of the other receiving weapons the Lions have at running back and tight end.

Running backs Theo Riddick (80 receptions last year) and Ameer Abdullah can catch the ball out of the backfield and also play in the slot, which could have been a factor.

The expectation is that tight end Eric Ebron will also be a big part of the passing game when he returns to the field.

The ability of those three players as significant contributors in the passing game allows the Lions to get away with four receivers to begin the season.

20man: I'm going under on that one.

There were six teams in the NFL last season that reached that mark – Buffalo (2,432), Carolina (2,282), Seattle (2,268), Minnesota (2,211), Tampa Bay (2,162) and Kansas City (2,044).

All those teams are similar in the fact that running the football is the core principle of their offense. It's what everything else runs off of.

Until shown otherwise, the Lions have been a team that passes to set up the run. Maybe that changes with Calvin Johnson no longer in the fold, but we'll have to wait and see.

The Lions want to run the ball with more consistency in 2016 – and they have to if they're going to be a better offense – but Detroit hasn't combined for 2,000 yards rushing in a single season since 1997. That was the year Barry Sanders reached that mark by himself.

20man: A number of rookies are going to get a chance to make an impact on special teams.

But if we're talking offense and defense, I would be a little surprised if running back Dwayne Washington didn't get a few carries or had some sort of small package installed for him after what he showed in the preseason.

The rookie is big, fast and showed he can make a play when given a crease. He could potentially get some run as a kick returner.

20man: I'm still not going to waver from my earlier expectations for the former No. 10 overall pick entering his third season.

If healthy, I see Ebron as a tough matchup for defenses. He could catch anywhere from 60-70 balls for 800-1,000 yards and 8-10 touchdowns.

He was targeted just 70 times last season. The Lions have to divvy up those 149 targets that went to Megatron last year some way, and Ebron should get his fair share.

20man: That's the million-dollar question now, isn't it? Stafford has plenty of weapons at his disposal even without Megatron.

Back in 2014, when Johnson missed games against Minnesota, New Orleans and Atlanta, Golden Tate caught 24 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions won all three of those games.

Stafford has played and won without Megatron in the past.

20man: The biggest one to me was probably receiver TJ Jones. I thought he was on pretty solid footing after the finish he had to the 2015 season. He made some nice plays down the stretch.

But it just goes to show how much of a 'what have you done for me lately' league this is. Last year is last year. The Lions obviously thought Andre Roberts outplayed Jones in 2016, so they kept the veteran instead.

I'm glad Jones landed on the practice squad. I don't think we've seen the last of him just yet.

Veteran cornerback Darrin Walls' release was a little surprising as well. It turned out rookie Adairius Barnes outplayed him in the minds of the talent evaluators. Caldwell said earlier this week that Barnes has a lot of upside.

20man: I would expect Riddick to continue to be a big part of the passing game. Will he lead all running backs in receptions for a second consecutive season? That would be both a tough and impressive feat.

If I was a betting man, I'd probably go under. But let's just say I wouldn't be surprised at all if he matches or exceeds last year's totals, either.

I'm just wondering who he'll make look silly in the open field first. Which Indy linebacker is a good candidate?

20man: You have to wait until Sunday morning and the "Keys to the Game" pregame video for that one. I still have to see who's in and who's out. I don't make predictions until I have all the information.

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