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5 things to watch: Minicamp

The Detroit Lions kick off their mandatory three-day minicamp today, which is the final on-field preparations before the start of training camp at the end of July.

The purpose of this minicamp is to put a bow on everything installed this spring, and get the rookies ready for what they'll experience in training camp so everyone can hit the ground running.

"I think the development of those guys is key," head coach Jim Caldwell said. "Because obviously, even last year, you look at a lot of our rookies played last year.

"I'm anticipating we'll have another group of guys that play a significant amount for us, so the development and teaching of that I think is extremely important."

Here are 5 things to watch out for over the course of the next three days:

1. Who's at left tackle?

We know it won't be Taylor Decker, who is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.

Second-year player Joe Dahl took a lot of the first-team reps in last week's open OTA practice, the first since the Decker injury was disclosed by the team, but veteran Cornelius Lucas was worked in as well.

Corey Robinson, who was the team's third tackle most of last year, has been rehabbing an injury and hasn't taken part in OTAs. If and when he returns, he'll be in the mix as well.

The team also signed veteran Tony Hills, and he could get into the mix as a stop-gap option until Decker can return.

We'll see how the rotation goes in minicamp.

2. Keep on keeping on

There have been a number of players who have looked impressive over the open OTA sessions that will hope to keep it going during minicamp.

This is the first good test for the rookies. It's more of a training-camp-like setting, which is a little different than voluntary OTAs.

Rookie receiver Kenny Golladay is one player who sticks out here. He's been very good through OTAs. Can he keep it up through three straight minicamp practices?

A couple others to watch would be linebacker Jarrad Davis and cornerback Teez Tabor.

3. Will we see Tahir Whitehead?

Whitehead watched off to the side of the first open OTA practice. He was not at the open practices in the following weeks, and the team gave no updates on his status other than to say he'd been excused from practice.

Will we see Whitehead on the field during this minicamp? If we do, we know it will be at the WILL, as rookie Jarrad Davis has slotted in at the MIKE. How will the two mesh? How will each other's strengths benefit the other's? Will Whitehead stay on the field with Davis in sub packages?

These are all questions we'll start to get answers to as soon as Whitehead returns to the field.

4. Who's playing the slot?

The Lions have a number of options here. If Golladay becomes the clear third receiver, we could see Golden Tate there a lot in three-receiver sets.

TJ Jones has been getting a lot of reps in the slot with the first-team offense in OTAs. He's a trusted veteran heading into his fourth season, and he knows the offense.

The wild card here is Jace Billingsley. He has the perfect kind of game for the slot. He's built, but shifty, and he'll get a good look.

It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff rotates players in and out from the slot over the next three days.

5. Chance to impress

This year's Lions roster assembled by general manager Bob Quinn has much more depth at a number of key positions where they've been short in years past -- Cornerback, offensive line, tight end and linebacker just to name a few.

Due to that fact, it appears it will be much harder than in year's past for a rookie free agent to make the roster.

That doesn't mean it can't be done, and these next three days will give some of those players a chance to make a good impression going into training camp.

The fact that the team is still looking for receivers to emerge could give Dontez Ford (Pitt), Noel Thomas (UConn) or Michael Rector (Stanford) the best chance of all the undrafted players to step up and seize a roster spot.

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