Five questions to ponder before Lions’ voluntary minicamp
Jim Caldwell will take the field Tuesday with his team for the first time since becoming the Detroit Lions’ new coach.
The Lions will conduct a voluntary, three-day minicamp at their team headquarters in Allen Park as part of their off-season program.
Over the last couple weeks, the players were involved in conditioning workouts and meetings, during which the coaches began to install new schemes.
Now the coaching staff gets to take it on the field for a few days, albeit without the players in full pads.
Here are five questions to ponder:
1. Will defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh make an appearance?
Suh didn’t attend the early voluntary workouts, deciding to train on his own instead.
There have been indications that he would be back in town for this minicamp despite ongoing negotiations on a possible contract extension. He could become a free agent following the upcoming season.
If he’s not back, you really have to wonder about how serious he is when it comes to this team.
The coaches get to take their system installation to another level during these three days. It’s important for everyone to be there, including Suh.
2. Who will be the new kicker to replace David Akers?
The first step will be to evaluate whether either of the players currently on their roster — John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio — is ready to take the job.
Potter, 24, was a seventh-round draft pick by Buffalo in 2012 and has gotten a little regular-season experience each of the last two seasons, including making 3-of-4 field goals last year for Washington.
Tavecchio, 23, pushed Mason Crosby in training camp a year ago with Green Bay, but he hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game.
"We’ll evaluate those guys in this upcoming period and we’ll compare them to the guys that are coming up in the draft," special-teams coach John Bonamego said. "We’ll find one."
3. Will players coming off season-ending injuries be available for all — or most — of the drills?
Defensive lineman Jason Jones, a free-agent addition a year ago, played in only three games before undergoing knee surgery.
Receiver Ryan Broyles suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon and is trying to bounce back from a major injury for the third straight offseason.
Tight end Michael Williams, a seventh-round draft pick last year out of Alabama, missed his entire rookie season because of a broken arm.
Running back Montell Owens, a strong special-teams player, is coming back from a knee injury.
4. How will the newcomers fit in?
Not only have the Lions added potential starters through free agency in receiver Golden Tate and safety James Ihedigbo, there are some other new faces trying to establish roles for themselves.
Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, who spent the last three years with New Orleans, could be a big addition to the special-teams units. He needs to help fill a void after John Wendling, a special-teams captain, wasn’t re-signed.
Corey Irvin (six games last year with Dallas) and Vaughn Martin (three games last year with Miami, coming off hernia surgery) will compete for the fourth defensive-tackle spot.
Darryl Tapp (11 games last year with Washington) could provide some depth at defensive end following the departure of free agent Willie Young to Chicago.
5. Will adding a fullback be a smooth transition for the offense?
The Lions haven’t used a traditional fullback in years, but that’s all changing under Caldwell and new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.
The team signed 6-foot-1, 255-pound Jed Collins, who played in 47 of 48 games over the last three years with New Orleans.