2022 Detroit Lions OTA Preview: 10 Things To Watch

Technically, the Organized Detroit Lions (OTA) teamwork began on Tuesday. These practices, however, took place quietly behind closed doors. Later this week, the Lions will open the door to the media, giving us a first look at the full list of Lions 2022 (players who choose to participate in these voluntary training sessions).

As always, at this time of year, this team has more questions than answers. But at the moment there is a noticeable increase in excitement among fans and many will likely be looking for any signs of confirmation of their optimism. OTAs will be the first real chance to stoke this fire or pour some cold water over the blazing flame.

Here are the top 10 things I’m going to watch during the four weeks of team training.

Injury situation and depth graph in the back room

Perhaps the most intriguing story of OTA will be the status of Jeff Okudah. Throughout the off-season, we’ve seen him get faster and more agile as he recovers from an Achilles injury in September. Okudah returned to the training field last week, but his participation level was not readable from the photos. Will he be involved in any way during the OTA? And if so, will it be on the corner or will the Lions try it in a safe way as many have suggested it might be best for a third year player? At least the press conference with the media seems to be in tune with Okudah, which should give us an insight into the last eight months of his life.

Okudah’s return would shake the Lions depth chart, which is difficult to read anyway. Amani Oruwariye is a closed start, but who will play on the opposite side? Is this the corner of the second year of Ifeatu Melifonwu, the free agent who signed with Mike Hughes, or is it Jerry Jacobs – who we suppose is still recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in December? The Young Corner promised earlier this month that it would be back “sooner than you think.” He’s also been spotted on the pitch during off-season training, so maybe he’s on OTA.

Finally, there’s a nickel position that is just as uncertain as any other. Will last year’s rookie AJ ​​Parker keep his spot or will the seventh round pick Chase Lucas? Or would the Lions consider Hughes more of a penny? Does Will Harris fit in here?

So many questions. So few answers.

Jared Goff’s height

This one is a bit simpler. Last year, the Lviv offensive looked lost and broken from the moment they entered the field. This year, most of the excuses have disappeared. It’s year 2 under this coaching staff – even with the “new” offensive coordinator. The offensive line is completely healthy. More importantly, Lions have better weapons surrounding their quarterback.

Jared Goff is undoubtedly in the make-or break season. Should he have problems, the Lions will almost certainly be looking for a new quarterback next season’s low season, and Goff may struggle to find a job elsewhere. If he shows signs of being a quarterback like he was in 2017 and 2018 in Los Angeles, the Lions might as well have their quarterback future.

With such high stakes and a supportive cast most playmakers would be pleased, the stage is set up for Goff to show its full potential.

Influence of DJ Charek

One of the extra weapons that Goff has at his disposal is pick up by free DJ Chark agents. Like Goff, Chark has a lot to prove this year. Injuries have cut short each of his last two seasons, and after missing 13 matches last season, he is hungry to re-enter the field.

“Being away from home and watching the entire football season make you feel at home. One feeling is hunger, ”said Chark in March. “Really, really, I can’t wait to get out there and be the best I can be. I am not afraid of failure. I just want to do my best, so that’s what I come here for. “

With a first-round pick, Jameson Williams, almost certainly sidelined, at least to the training camp, now is the time for Chark to build a chemistry with Goff and prove that he can still be a viable option for WR 1.

Aidan Hutchinson punch

While we’ll have to hold on to most of our first Hutchinson impressions until pads arrive at the training camp, it’ll be fascinating to see how she initially handles the mighty Detroit duo Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker. These battles are not to be missed when the bricks come out, but will still likely be fun during an OTA.

With Romeo Okwara likely being sidelined during the OTA, Hutchinson should represent the first team right away so it won’t be long to see the fireworks.

Levi Onwuzurike health and growth

Onwuzurike was without a doubt Brad Holmes’ most disappointing draft pick last season. Onwuzurike, who picked the second round, had a hard time finding his rhythm and making an impact in Year 1.

But now we have an important context: Onwuzurike had a back injury that made it difficult to even sit up during team games. Now he had plenty of time to rest and strengthen his lower body to relieve his back. Additionally, Lviv’s transition to a more offensive defensive front should make better use of its strengths.

Coaches have already praised Onwuzurike’s commitment to building strength this off-season, but that still has to translate on the pitch. Will we see any flashes during OTA?

Who will be TE2?

The search for Lions in order to find a second tight end has been dragged on for several seasons. The closest was Darren Fells last year, but he wanted to leave mid-season.

This year’s candidates to complete TJ Hockenson: Free Agent Garrett Griffin, Last Year’s Free Agent Brock Wright, and Fifth Round Rookie James Mitchell. At this point, I couldn’t even tell who was the favorite to win a job in the first week. Mitchell has the potential to win this job in the long run, but he fell out of the torn ACL and did not attend the mini beginner camp. It appears to be on the verge of making a comeback, but Detroit may be keeping him away from OTA to keep him safe.

Noticeable changes in defense?

When head coach Dan Campbell said Detroit would adopt more four-man defensive fronts, it drew a lot of attention. However, since then, almost every defensive coach has downplayed his importance, noting that many of these changes were made towards the end of last season.

If they are based on a front with a four, then there are many questions that need to be answered. How will this change the role of nose gear in the ranking? Will Alim McNeill be effective as a trio of technologies? Is John Penisini already playing a significant role? How often will players like Aidan Hutchinson and Romeo Okwara (when healthy) throw themselves into the mud instead of passing passes while standing up? And how will this affect players like Julian Okwara and rookie Justin Houston, who are better standing players than defensive players?

What is different in an attack?

Amon-Ra St. Brown made one of the most interesting quotes during this off-season about the offensive pattern.

“I would definitely say it is different from last year. Definitely a new language. You have to start over. Of course, there is a bit of a rollover from last year, but not much. [Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson] he remade it as if he made it his own. It’s like a new language, it takes a while, but once we have mastered it, it will be easy for us. “

Campbell later noted that there would be more momentum in and out of the award.

So what changes will the media show during OTA? They’re likely still in the early stages of installing a new crime and will likely keep it clean from journalists, but will there be any noticeable philosophical differences? More heavy pass? Any neat formations we haven’t seen before? NFL teams are very secretive about this sort of thing and some details are unavailable for reporting, but with Johnson now at the helm full-time there should be some visible differences worth reporting.

Which Day 3 rookie might get in on game time?

There has already been a lot of hype about all four types of Lions’ Day 3 in the draft. Tight End James Mitchell, linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, Edge / linebacker James Houston and Cornerback Chase Lucas all have visible paths to the 53-man squad, and maybe even some playtime outside of special teams in 2022. But where will they be on the depth chart here in May, and what progress can they make with the mandatory mini camps?

This is their first chance to make a real impression on the coaching staff and potentially climb the career ladder before a training camp.

How will the linebacker hall play out?

The Lions did not make any aggressive staff movements in the linebacker position, leaving an interesting competition in front of them. In the internal linebacker, it looks like Alex Anzalone will have a starting position for the lockout. Behind him, Malcolm Rodriguez and maybe even Jarrad Davis will fight for the role of the reserve. Derrick Barnes is likely to enter OTA as a favorite for the second opening role, but the addition of a free agent, Chris Board, shouldn’t be far behind, and last year’s beloved camp (short) Shaun Dion Hamilton will also be in the conversation.

There also appears to be a situational role in the linebacker team for the edge defender, which will include a camp battle between Davis, James Houston, and Natrez Patrick (or maybe Julian Okwara?), Among others. Just another potentially new ripple of this defense worth keeping an eye on.

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