Plenty of opportunity on Lions' offensive line

BY foxsports • August 4, 2013

The Detroit Lions lost both tackles and a guard from last season's regular starting lineup, so there's plenty of opportunity as the franchise ended its first full week of training camp.

Tackle Riley Reiff, a first-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, is settling into the left end of the line while veteran Jason Fox will form the other bookend after appearing in just one game last season.

Veteran center Dominic Raiola is back for a 13th season and joins guard Rob Sims as the only members of the line to start all 16 games in 2012.

Rookie Larry Warford, free agent Jake Scott and backup center Dylan Gandy all have seen time at the other guard spot.

''Whoever's out there knows what they're doing and knows what we've got to get done,'' Reiff said Saturday. ''Whoever is out there, it's going to work.''

Longtime left tackle Jeff Backus retired during the offseason (Reiff made one start in his place last year) and fellow tackle Gosder Cherilus went to Indianapolis as a free agent. Stephen Peterman, a starting guard all last season, is now with the New York Jets.

Raiola and Sims, an eight-year veteran who came to the Lions in a 2010 trade with Seattle, have joined Reiff for nearly all the first-team snaps so far this summer. Reiff said their advice and the time spent with Backus during last season and this year's offseason training sessions have helped.

''He was a real consistent player and I just tried to watch and learn from him,'' Reiff said of Backus, who started all but one game in 12 seasons here. ''He was in the league a long time, so he knows what he was doing.''

Fox has appeared in five games since being selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, including just one last year before he was placed on injured reserve.

The most notable competition has been for the other guard spot. Scott, a nine-year veteran who came from Philadelphia as a free-agent during the offseason, and Warford, a third-round selection in April, alternated with the first offense Saturday.

Gandy, an eight-year vet who played in all 16 games last season, had some reps with the same unit on Friday.

Coach Jim Schwartz cautioned against reading too much into who plays where so early in camp.

''You've got to avoid rushing the judgment on anything,'' he said. ''All those guys are in the mix. They're all working hard.

''It's going to be who can be consistent over time and who can be reliable over time.''

The Lions were third in the NFL in total offense during last season's 4-12 run, but only a quarter of that yardage came from the ground game. Reggie Bush was signed as a free agent and Mikel Leshoure will likely be used in short-yardage situations.

The coaching staff also wouldn't mind the new line retaining some of last season's good habits in the passing game - only eight teams allowed fewer than the 29 sacks Detroit surrendered in 2012.

The Lions host the Jets on Aug. 9 for both teams' exhibition opener and begin the regular season Sept. 8 at home against Minnesota.

Notes: S Louis Delmas missed a third straight practice and continued to wear a brace on his left knee. Schwartz said there was no change in his condition. ... WR Devin Thomas did not practice Saturday, a day after he came off the physically unable to perform list. . Saturday was the first of two family days at training camp and the Lions drew a record 6,034 fans - many of them children - to their training facility. A local country artist performed before the start of practice and children were treated to face painting and other activities.