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TIM AND MIKE: Biggest offseason surprises

There is a little bit of work left for the Detroit Lions before the offseason begins later this week for the full roster of players, but it is all off the field for rookies only as part of the league-wide transition program.

Otherwise, all the practice work ended last week with the final minicamp practices. The next time the Lions will be in uniform is when training camp begins in late July.

There is still a lot to talk about, speculate about and reflect on – such as surprise developments, potential rookie impact, position changes, whether the Lions got enough work done in practice, uniforms and cheerleaders.

What stands out?

Mike: I don't mind chiming in on uniforms and cheerleaders, but I thought the biggest surprise of the Lions' offseason was on the offensive line. In every practice that was open to the media, rookie Taylor Decker was the left tackle. Riley Reiff, the starter there the last three years, was at right tackle.

There was no pretense of a rookie and veteran sharing time in a competition to start at left tackle. If Decker holds up throughout training camp, he'll be the left tackle. That leaves Reiff on the right side, where he will be a major upgrade.

The obvious question is whether Decker can hold the job for the long haul.

Tim: We'll have a better idea if Decker can hold on to that left tackle spot as soon as the pads come on. It won't be too long before he finds himself in a live drill with him as the only thing standing between Ziggy Ansah and the quarterback. We'll have a good idea then if he's ready for the job.

I thought one of the other surprises through OTAs and minicamp is that third-year linebacker Kyle Van Noy seems to have a stranglehold on the starting SAM linebacker spot. He took most of the reps there with the first-team defense.

I have to admit I was a bit surprised by that. But give Van Noy credit -- he finally had a healthy offseason where he wasn't having some kind of surgery, and came into the offseason program in the best shape of his career.

He seems more comfortable playing off the line of scrimmage. Both Jim Caldwell and Teryl Austin raved about his play this spring and summer. But now there are no more excuses for Van Noy. It's time to produce.

Decker is expected to make an impact as a rookie, but which other rookies could have a significant impact on the 2016 season for the Lions?

Mike: From the draft, I'm looking at two at the top – right behind Decker – one at the bottom, and one who was never drafted.

Second-round pick A'Shawn Robinson will strengthen the rotation at defensive tackle, and third-round pick Graham Glasgow will push incumbent starter Travis Swanson at center. Running back Dwayne Washington has speed. The Lions could get value from that seventh-round pick.

And from the undrafted ranks, injuries and attrition have created a need at tight end behind starter Eric Ebron. Cole Wick, the undrafted rookie from Incarnate Word in San Antonio, saw his stock rise steadily in the offseason. I'm taking a flyer on him as the No. 3 tight end.

One more from the undrafted ranks: offensive lineman Chase Farris of Ohio State.

You might see it differently.

Tim: Robinson will be a factor. I think he'll push Tyrunn Walker for a starting spot and at the very least be an important part of the rotation on the interior of the defensive front.

Sixth-round pick Anthony Zettel has an opportunity to make an impact if only because the Lions aren't very deep at defensive end. Zettel hasn't really stood out in the offseason, but will have an opportunity when the pads come on in August to beat out Brandon Copeland and Deonte Gibson as the fourth rusher on the edge behind Ansah, Devin Taylor and Wallace Gilberry. Most sixth-round picks don't get an opportunity to play that early. Will he make the most of the opportunity in training camp?

I'm with you on Washington. I think he has a unique skillset that sets him apart from the rest of the Lions backs in that he has both size and speed. Ball security will be a key issue for him moving forward.

I like Wick so far too, big kid with terrific hands. Can he block? We'll find out.

One other name to consider is Jay Lee, the undrafted receiver out of Baylor. He made some plays in OTAs and minicamp, and the competition for the fifth receiver spot is wide open. He could factor into the competition come August.

That leaves just uniforms and cheerleaders. First impressions on both?

Mike: Finally -- the two most important issues in the history of the Detroit Lions. Uniforms and cheerleaders.

I like the original throwbacks that the Lions broke out in 1994. It helped that the Lions played the Cowboys on Monday Night TV. And it helped even more that Barry Sanders ran for 194 yards to beat Emmitt Smith in their personal duel and the Lions won in overtime.

Those uniforms had a sharp, clean look – dark blue jerseys and socks, silver helmets without decals, silver pants and black shoes.

If this era of color rush uniforms rules out those classic uniforms – and they wore them the last time in 2010 – then I vote for all black. Everything. Pants. Socks. Jerseys. Helmets. Visors. Mouthguards. They could even make the numbers black – black on black – and it would be fine with me.

As for cheerleaders, if a majority of fans want them – and that seems to be the case – then have them.

Tim: You joke, but my Twitter feed blows up whenever either subject is mentioned. It's still a little weird to me.

I'm with you, Mike, in that I like the old blue and silver throwbacks. Those are my favorites, and I'd actually like to see the team wear those over any color rush uniform on Thanksgiving.

I'm not a big fan of the whole color rush idea in general. Black is probably the best option, if I had to choose one.

As for cheerleaders, if the fans want them, and the team sees a benefit in having them, then go for it.

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