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Roster depth crucial for team success

Depth is just as big a factor to NFL success as the talent at the top of the roster, and Super Bowl participants Denver and Carolina are great examples of that fact.

Denver started backup quarterback Brock Osweiler in seven games this season when Peyton Manning was dealing with a foot injury. The Broncos won five of those contests to help earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

After setting Carolina's rookie receiving record in 2014 with 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns, Kelvin Benjamin was expected to be a major weapon in Carolina's offense this past season. He tore his ACL in a non-contact drill in training camp and never played a down in 2015. Carolina still managed to go 15-1 during the regular season and finish with the league's No. 1 scoring offense.

It's not if injures are going to happen in this league, it's when. The good teams, like Denver and Carolina, are able to battle through them because they have great depth up and down the roster.

It's something very much on the mind of Lions team president Rod Wood and general manager Bob Quinn as they head toward the upcoming free agency period and the NFL Draft.

"Certainly there are things we need to improve on, particularly adding some depth so that we can sustain injuries because there are going to be injuries in this sport," Wood said Monday on the Frank Beckman Show on WJR.

The Lions could have up to $40 million in cap space depending on Calvin Johnson's retirement decision and some other potential roster moves. The team is also expected to have up to 10 picks in April's NFL Draft with compensatory picks.

"We have 10 draft picks this year. We have some money for free agency, so I think that we can add some talent," Wood said. "You look at the Panthers, they had a lot of injuries, particularly in their receiving corps, and they still were able to have a great year and get to the Super Bowl. Denver had a lot of injuries.

"You need to have depth and I think that's one of the things we're going to be about adding this year."

Wood said the Lions have talent in some key areas like quarterback, cornerback and linebacker, but need to "fill in a few holes and add some depth" to have a shot to compete in 2016.

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