Detroit's offensive line has gone through some major changes this offseason, and center Travis Swanson has been the glue to help tie it all together.
Swanson's familiarity with the scheme and his ability to make the line calls with ease, has been invaluable thus far.
"It's been huge," new right guard T.J. Lang said of having Swanson running things in the middle of the line. "We have three new guys with Greg (Robinson), myself and Rick (Wagner) on the line. It really comes down to Travis and how he identifies defenses and the calls he makes and we all play off him and communicate it.
"It's definitely a calming feeling knowing that we have a guy in the middle there who has a lot of experience and is very smart and can get us all on the same page."
Watching Swanson before Saturday's preseason game vs. the New York Jets, it appears he's also taken on more of a vocal leadership role. He was the one breaking down the offensive linemen before the game, and he was the one who appeared to be most vocal on the bench in between series.
"He's definitely become more of a vocal leader," said tackle Cornelius Lucas, who came to the Lions the same year as Swanson in 2014.
"Doing the right thing, leading by example, he's definitely taken on that role and he's doing it well."
On the field, Swanson has played so well through the first three weeks of camp that he's barely noticed on most days (that's a compliment for offensive linemen). That shouldn't be too big of a surprise, however. Before Swanson suffered a concussion last year and missed the final five games of the regular season, he was graded as the ninth-best center in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.
In 12 games last season, he allowed just two sacks, three quarterback hits and seven hurries. He was one of Detroit's most consistent and reliable players upfront along with left tackle Taylor Decker.
Detroit's had to navigate a lot upfront over the last few months -- Decker's shoulder injury, trading for Robinson and then trying to get the new players up to speed, all while Lang has been eased back because of offseason surgery. It's all been challenging.
"Every year you're a part of it you become more comfortable," Swanson said of his comfort level in this offense heading into his fourth year.
"I like how things are going right now just as far as my comfort level with calls and what to do."
One thing Lions head coach Jim Caldwell hasn't had to worry about as it pertains to his offensive line is Swanson's ability to help tie it all together.
"He is, I think without a doubt, maturing within the system," Caldwell said. "I think there's no question about it. He's becoming a more vocal leader. I can hear his interactions with some of the younger players that he's mentoring, directing and tutoring, and I think all of those things kind of go with the position.
"He's in a spot where there's got to be heavy communication. You can't be bashful. You also have to be extremely smart along with the physicality it takes to play that spot. Travis has been doing well in all of those areas."