The Detroit Lions are hosting their annual mandatory minicamp in Allen Park this week, which is one of the final tune-ups for the players and coaches before the start of training camp in late July.
This is an important time to get the new offensive and defensive installs completed so the team can hit the ground running coming camp. Here's a look at five things I'll be watching out for during this week's three-day minicamp:
1. WIDE RECEIVER COMPETITION
A weakness at the start of the offseason now looks to be a strength offensively for the Lions with the re-signing of Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond, the addition of DJ Chark via free agency, and the drafting of Jameson Williams with the No. 12 overall pick in the draft.
When we also consider how Amon-Ra St. Brown finished his rookie season, and the fact that Quintez Cephus is back after a collar bone injury limited him to just five games last year, the Lions have some versatility, talent and depth at the position.
With Chark, Williams, St. Brown, Reynolds, Raymond and Cephus, the Lions could have some difficult decisions to make. I would not be surprised if the team decides to ultimately keep six receivers on the initial roster out of camp because all six of these players can help them. How will the Lions rotate them in and out during minicamp? What will the depth chart look like this week?
2. ROOKIE IMPACT
There was a three-play stretch in the first open OTA practice a couple weeks back where No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson wrecked an 11-on-11 period with what would have been three straight sacks of quarterback David Blough in a two-minute period.
Rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez has impressed early on with his film study and ability to pick up the scheme and translate it to the field.
Second-round pick Josh Paschal has been teaming up with Hutchinson, both as an inside rusher and on the opposite edge, causing some early havoc upfront.
The competition ramps up a little bit during minicamp, though it's still without pads. Can some of these rookies continue to make a mark and build some momentum heading into training camp?
3. DEFENSIVE PROGRESSION
Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn has made some significant changes to his defensive scheme this offseason, moving to more of an aggressive, even front with an attacking mindset to better match the personnel he has on defense.
We've seen more of that upfield approach in the first couple OTA practices, and it definitely feels different.
As a result, the linebackers are also playing more of an up-field style, and that's an adjustment for them too. The goal is to really take advantage of some of the athletes upfront and their ability to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage more.
Can the defense affect quarterback Jared Goff consistently over the next three days? Can they get their hands on more footballs because of it?
4. GOFF'S COMFORT LEVEL
Goff has had nothing but good things to say about new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, which really shouldn't be a surprise considering how well Goff and this offense played the second half of last season when Johnson was elevated to pass-game coordinator and head coach Dan Campbell took over play calling.
Don't be surprised if Johnson takes over play-calling duties to go along with his new title as OC. He was calling plays during OTAs.
Johnson has his own thoughts and touches he's adding to the offense, things he couldn't add on midseason last year, but it's not wholesale changes, more tweaks and adds here and there. That should have Goff feeling right at home in his second season at the helm.
Goff has a terrific offensive line in front of him and good skill-position weapons all over the field. This offense is expected to stretch the field more in the passing game than they did a year ago with some of the additions they've made. I'd like to see some of that this week, even with Williams not expected to take part as he rehabs an ACL injury.
View photos from Day 4 of Detroit Lions OTA practices on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 in Allen Park, Mich.
5. KICKER COMPETITION
There's still a long way to go before GM Brad Holmes and Campbell have to decide on an initial 53-man roster, but one of the tighter competitions over the next three months could be between Austin Seibert and Riley Patterson to earn place kicking duties.
Seibert was 10-of-12 kicking field goals and a perfect 5-for-5 on extra-point tries in six games with the Lions last year before a hip injury ended his season prematurely.
When Seibert went down, the Lions signed Patterson off the Patriots practice squad. He made 13 of his 14 field goal attempts and all 16 of his extra points tries the rest of the way. He was the Week 15 NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after converting three field goals and three extra points in Detroit's 30-12 win over Arizona.
It's a good spot for special teams coordinator Dave Fipp to be in having to choose between two very capable kickers. Who will be the most consistent this week and maybe give themselves a leg up heading into camp?