Lions’ Jansen makes case to start at right tackle

Allen Park — Jon Jansen is part of the problem and the solution at a critical position on the Lions’ offensive line.

The problem is a good one to have at any position — strong competition for the starting job at right tackle.

Jansen is making a determined bid at a spot where 2008 first-round draft pick Gosder Cherilus is the incumbent starter.

Barring injury, the other four starting positions are set on an offensive line that should be greatly improved over last year.

With two games left in the exhibition season, coach Jim Schwartz has decisions to make at right tackle and backup spots that are important for depth and protection against injury to a starter.

Jansen, beginning his 12th pro season and second with the Lions, has a workman-like approach that has made him productive throughout his career.

His objective is to play as well as he can and leave decisions up to the coaches.

That doesn’t mean the former University of Michigan star, who played at Clawson High School, hasn’t thought about winning the starting job.

“I’d be lying to say I don’t think about it,” Jansen said after Tuesday’s morning practice. “It’s not my decision. It doesn’t do me any good to think about it.”

When Jansen signed with the Lions last year, after 10 seasons in Washington, many people thought he was returning home for a farewell tour of the NFL.

That was never in Jansen’s mind.

“I’ve got a lot of football left in me,” Jansen said. “I’ve got a couple more seasons left in me after this one. I’d like to go out starting and playing.

“This game’s all about competition. I think they know I want to improve this team and make this team better.”

Jansen, 34, was Washington’s full-time starter at right tackle when healthy. Last year, he played in 11 games with two starts — one each at guard and tackle.

Cherilus has missed only one game since the Lions drafted him 17th overall out of Boston College in ’08. He started 13 games as a rookie and 15 last year.

However, a lack of consistency by Cherilus has left right tackle up for grabs. Cherilus and Jansen have gotten about equal playing time in the first two games.

Schwartz stressed again Tuesday that the Lions are still in training-camp mode. He will not talk specifically about cuts at any particular position.

“I think some guys are showing what they can do,” Schwartz said. “We’ve had a good evaluation.”
 
Lining up

Versatility will be a factor in setting the offensive line for the regular season. Eight linemen probably will make the final 53-player roster, and there will be some tough calls.

Dylan Gandy has experience at guard and center. Corey Hilliard has played only five games in three seasons with the Colts and Lions, but experience at guard and tackle strengthens his position. Rookie Jason Fox is a fourth-round draft pick who could have a future at both tackles. Manny Ramirez has been primarily a guard in three seasons with the Lions.
 
Injury update/personnel

Safety Louis Delmas practiced for the second straight day, indicating he is making progress on a groin injury that has hampered him since the off-season.

Delmas’ practice time is being carefully regulated to lessen the chance of a setback. The Monday-Tuesday practices marked the first time Delmas has practiced two straight days since camp opened.

No decision has been made on whether he will play against Cleveland Saturday.

Offensive tackle Cliff Louis was claimed on waivers from the New York Giants.

“He’s big; you can’t coach big,” Schwartz said of the 6-8, 315-pound first-year lineman.

DeDe Dorsey helped his cause with a solid outing in the last game at Denver — four carries for 21 yards, four receptions for 41.

“I don’t think he played his best in the first game (against Pittsburgh),” Schwartz said. “He was the engine on a lot of those drives (against Denver). He was able to make some plays, make some guys miss.”

Jake Nordin has gotten some notice at fullback and H-back.

Aug. 24, 2010