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5 things to watch: Lions at Steelers

The start of the preseason is here, and with it comes the first opportunity for this batch of Detroit Lions to make a good first impression in 2016.

Here are five things to watch out for tonight in Pittsburgh:


All eyes will be on rookie first-round pick Taylor Decker, who enters the game No. 1 on the depth chart at left tackle.

Decker had his ups and down in the two joint practices with the Steelers earlier in the week, and the Steelers' 3-4 blitzing scheme is a nice test for him in his first live action.

Defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson should get some quality reps on defense. Graham Glasgow will get plenty of playing time as he tries to take his first steps toward trying to win a role at center. Miles Killebrew is attempting to climb the depth chart in the competition at strong safety. He currently trails Rafael Bush, Tavon Wilson and Isaiah Johnson.

Can linebacker Antwione Williams take advantage of some injuries ahead of him? Jimmy Landes gets his first live opportunity to make a good impression at long snapper. We'll also see if Cole Wick can keep up his good play so far through training camp.


After two good days of competitive practice against the Steelers at their training camp facility in Latrobe, head coach Jim Caldwell might not need to see much from some of his starters in Friday's preseason opener.

"Yeah, well some guys you're not going to see as much of," Caldwell said after Wednesday's practice.

"You want to see a lot of the younger guys because some of your older guys got a lot of good work (the last two days in practice). We'll look at that and kind of tamper it, different number of reps that they had, so you may not see some of the older guys much, if at all in some cases. Other cases, you'll see some of the young guys a little bit more."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has already ruled out quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown, running backs Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams and center Maurkice Pouncey.


The Lions were the worst rushing offense in the NFL last season and quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked 44 times. Not all of that falls on the offensive line, but that was an area that clearly needed to get better in 2016.

Bob Quinn drafted Decker, Glasgow and Joe Dahl among the first five picks in his first draft as Lions general manager. He also went out and signed veteran guard Geoff Schwartz to add depth in the middle.


A number of players on the Steelers' defense commented this week about the tempo in which the Lions offense played at during their joint practices. It should be noticeable for those watching the game at home and in Heinz Field.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford likes this offense because it gives him a lot of control at the line of scrimmage. The goal is to get back in the huddle, get to the line of scrimmage and give Stafford time to survey the defense.



There's typically about 30 percent turnover on every NFL roster from year to year, and the Lions will be debuting a number of new starters on defense.

Defensive end Devin Taylor and linebacker Kyle Van Noy are moving from reserve roles to starting ones.

Cornerbacks Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs took over starting roles at the middle of last season. They now enter the year as starters on the outside and in the slot.

Bush has battled injuries that have derailed his last two seasons in New Orleans. He's a big hitter in the box, and has shown the ability to make plays in coverage through the first couple weeks of camp.

We get our first look at how these new starters fit into Teryl Austin's scheme in a game situation.

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