By Price Burton, CBS 62
So, how important is the Lions pre-season game at 7:30 p.m. tonight against Cleveland? It’s hard to know. Pre-season games can often be misleading because they don’t always translate to regular season success.
Case in point: when the Lions had the worst season in the history of the NFL in 2008, they went undefeated in the pre-season with a 4-0 record, and then went on to go 0-16 during the regular season.
You measure the pre-season a couple different ways:
1) If your starters are clicking and stay healthy
2) If you have quality depth behind them so that if one of your starters gets injured, you have the ability to plug in someone else who can play winning football.
Certain veteran players don’t need as many reps. Players like Dominic Raiola and Jeff Backus can rest more and don’t need to be beat up as much. Both players have started virtually every game of their careers since they came into the NFL in 2001. Both of these veterans anchor the O-line and look to tutor and help younger players such as first round pick Riley Reiff from Iowa.
The 2nd cornerback spot is one of the more interesting battles of training camp, as Chris Houston is a lock to start at one of the cornerpositions. The other is very highly contested battle between rookie Bill Bently out of Louisiana-Lafayette and veteran Alphonso Smith. Although this battle will likely come down to Bently vs. Smith, Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com is reporting that Bently is likely to get the start tonight vs. the Browns. Even though Bently is getting the start tonight though, look for it to be an ongoing battle throughout all of training camp.
That battle at cornerback is by far the most highly-contested, while 20 out of 22 starters return from last season. This roster is much harder for younger players to make than a few years ago. With the Lions coming off their first post-season trip since 1999, expectations in Detroit have never been higher. Lions fans are curious to see if they can meet them and become a consistent playoff team.
Fans are hoping the Lions will have a good pre-season, but will it really matter in the long-term? Only time can answer that question.
Price Burton, a student at Northern Michigan University, is an intern at CBS 62/ CW50. I played football collegiately at NMU ‘til my career was cut short by a career ending knee injury last fall.