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2018 training camp preview: Interior offensive line

On the roster: Graham Glasgow, T.J. Lang, Frank Ragnow (OL), Joe Dahl, Wesley Johnson, Kenny Wiggins, Leo Koloamatangi, John Montelus (OL), Beau Nunn (OL)

Key losses: Travis Swanson

Making the cut: Glasgow, Lang, Ragnow

On the bubble: Dahl, Wiggins, Johnson, Koloamatangi, Montelus, Nunn

Table inside Article
Name Games Sacks PEN
Graham Glasgow 16 3.0 4
T.J. Lang 13 1.0 7
Frank Ragnow* 7 0.0 N/A
Joe Dahl 6 1.0 0
Wesley Johnson# 15 2.0 5
Kenny Wiggins^ 16 2.5 2
Leo Koloamatangi 0 0.0 0
John Montelus* 13 N/A N/A
Beau Nunn* 13 1.0 N/A
#with NYJ ^with LAC *college stats

Best competition: Who is No. 4 and No. 5 on the roster?

Teams typically keep a combination of around nine or 10 offensive linemen on the initial 53-man roster. Typically, four tackles and five interior players, or some close combination to that, make up the regular-season o-line group. Having a player or two with some position versatility is always a big plus and can affect those numbers.

Dahl is a former Bob Quinn draft pick, and the team has spent the last two years working with him to play guard and shore up his run blocking after playing left tackle in a pass-happy scheme in college. He played right guard with the second-team offense in some of the open OTA and minicamp practices. Also getting second-team reps were Wiggins (left guard) and Johnson (center).

It will be worth tracking how the reps along the interior go in the first few weeks of training camp, and then how the rotations set up in the preseason. If the Lions keep five interior linemen, who is the odd man out?

View photos of the guards and centers competing for roster spots entering training camp.

Twentyman's take: The Lions drafted Ragnow in the first round this offseason to solidify the interior group alongside veteran lineman Glasgow and right guard Lang. Ragnow fits the new profile of a Lions offensive lineman – smart and tough – two requirements of offensive line coach Jeff Davidson.

One of the keys along the interior for Detroit is Lang staying healthy. A Pro Bowler last season, Lang dealt with some lingering injuries and missed three games.

I like the starting five of Taylor Decker, Ragnow, Glasgow, Lang and Rick Wagner. The key is staying healthy. Looking across the league, usually when an offensive line is collectively having a good year – consistent rushing team, low sacks, productive offense – the offensive line has consistently avoided injury and played together.

The Lions have done a lot to bolster the run game and have new blocking schemes upfront, but health is still the most important factor surrounding that group in 2018.

By the numbers:

25.6: Detroit's points per game average in 2017 ranked seventh in the NFL.

2.83: Average yards per rush for the Lions last season when running up the middle. The team averaged 3.88 yards running left and 3.13 yards running right.

18th: Detroit finished 18th in STATS, INC.'s Protection Index, which factors in a number of different categories to come up with an overall pass-blocking grade for all of the 32 teams in the NFL.

Quotable: "Obviously, Jeff's a guy who's been around for a long time," Lang said of new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson. "He's a former player himself. He understands what it's like sitting in those chairs. It's been a good, I think, great addition to the team.

"I think him and both Hank (Fraley), the assistant o-line coach – Hank's a guy who has played a long time, too."

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