Lions head coach Dan Campbell was asked Thursday what position competitions he has an eye on as the team begins training camp.
"It's a good question," Campbell said. "There is a lot of them. Probably for me, I would say my eyes are on safety and inside linebacker. Actually, I would flip it. I would say inside linebacker first, then I would say safety position.
"Those are going to be good battles. I'm not just talking about starting. I'm talking about who's the next guy in? We could have three starters if you know what I mean? They're rotating through. We can have four. So much is going to play into how special teams goes too, especially in that position."
Campbell talked earlier in the offseason about the safety position and how he likes the depth and competition developing there. Early in camp we've seen veterans Tracy Walker and Will Harris take a lot of the first-team reps, but Dean Marlowe, a veteran coming over from Buffalo in free agency, has worked into the mix as well. So have second-year players Bobby Price and Jalen Elliott, as well as rookie D'Angelo Amos.
The competition early in camp not only for starting jobs, but also key roles and roster spots, is hopefully going to make all involved that much better. The Lions didn't get good enough play out of their safety group last year – a group that included Walker and Harris – and if this defense is going to be a better unit overall, they have to get more consistent play out of the safety position.
"It brings the best out of you," Marlowe said of the competition in camp at safety. "It brings the best out in everybody. We push each other each day. We know that we're not in competition with each other, we're in a competition with ourselves. That's the mindset that we go into it with every day."
When the competition at safety is as tight as it appears to be, there's no room for bad days or taking a day off.
Marlowe, who recorded two interceptions and allowed just one touchdown in 120 coverage snaps as the Bills' third safety last year, wants a bigger role in Detroit, and he seems to be pushing Walker and Harris pretty hard for one.
Marlowe said Glenn's defense is safety-friendly in that they're granted a lot of freedom to read the quarterback and flow to the ball to make plays.
"You just get to do a lot of things openly and freely," he said. "We just have to go out there and continue to get better with the scheme. We've only been a part of it for maybe two or three months. Every day is important and we're excited for what's ahead."
Safety is certainly one of the position groups to watch closely over the next month to see just how the competition will play out in camp, and hopefully make the players better for having gone through a tough battle.