Skip to main content

O'HARA: Caldwell taking a rain check on roster predictions

What head coach Jim Caldwell said when asked how the Detroit Lions have improved their roster this offseason is something that could – and should – be said every year.

Basically, Caldwell took a rain check. He'll answer later. A lot later.

"I'm one of those guys that I'm not going to make any pronouncements about what I think we've done until we actually have a chance to see it – get pads on," Caldwell said Friday when asked at the start of rookie minicamp. "It's in ballgames where that's proven."

That's not exactly a ground-breaking statement, but it's in keeping with Caldwell's character and the approach he continues to take as he prepares for his fourth season as head coach of the Lions.

It's easy to get caught up in the whiff of optimism that permeates all 32 NFL franchises this time of year.

With the veterans in good health at the end of their first month of offseason workouts and the rookie class reporting for its first practices, this is a time of year when every move made by the front office looks good. High draft picks are gems. Lower picks are steals.  The free agents signed will plug holes. And players who weren't brought back weren't needed.

Or so it seems.

For two years under general manager Bob Quinn the Lions have done what was needed in the offseason.

For starters, it means building the offensive line. That was done in last year's draft and this year's free-agent signings.

It also means building the front seven on defense. Two key players in that effort are draft picks – defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson, taken in the second round last year, and this year's first-round pick, Jarrad Davis, to fill a gaping hole at linebacker.

And overall, the Lions have added depth and role players across the board.

The bottom line: Quinn has taken care of the obvious. He hasn't tried to reinvent the roster-building process.

It all looks and feels good for a Lions team that generally is given the best chance to break the Green Bay Packers' grip on the NFC North.

And true to his character, Caldwell isn't making any claims about where the Lions stand in comparison to last year, when they survived a late-season skid to make the playoffs with a 9-7 won-loss record.

"When you look on paper, yeah, we're improved – a lot different football team in some areas," he said. "But you still have to get it done. I think we're stronger. I think we have more depth. But you can't just talk about it.

"You've got to go out and do it, and that's what practice is for. That's what this preparation is for. That's what this offseason is for. That's what training camp is for."

There is still plenty of offseason left before the Lions get to training camp, let alone start the season in September.

Quinn has shown no inclination to stand pat, especially with depth and the bottom of the roster. To paraphrase what he said at the end of last season, players have to get used to competition and changes in the roster.

I think there's still work to be done on the roster, primarily on offense. A veteran running back for insurance and a speed receiver would be good additions.

At least that's the way it looks on paper in May.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content