By: Will Burchfield
@Burchie_kid

The Detroit Lions conclude their offseason program with a mandatory three-day minicamp that begins Tuesday afternoon. It will be the final chance for rookies and first-year signees to make an impression on the coaching staff before training camp begins in late July. For the established players on the roster, it is about staking a definitive claim to their respective positions heading into a long layoff. With that in mind, here are a three storylines to watch during the final phase of the Lions’ offseason.

1. The Battle at Left Tackle

It was well-documented through OTAs, but minicamp will give us another glimpse into who the Lions are favoring at left tackle. On one hand, there is Riley Reiff, who has manned the position for the past three seasons; on the other hand, there is first-round draft pick Taylor Decker, who displaced Reiff during OTAs. (Reiff moved over to right tackle.) Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter remained noncommittal about the team’s decision at left tackle when OTAs came to a close, explaining, “Well, we’re working through some things, trying to figure out what our best five’s going to be. You’re not going to know your best five unless you try guys out at certain spots.”

2. Washington’s Development

Running back Dwayne Washington, the Lions’ seventh-round draft choice in 2016, was a late arrival to OTA’s as he worked to complete his college degree. That will set him back a bit as minicamp kicks off, but there is a serious opportunity at the running back position with Ameer Abdullah on the shelf and Stevan Ridley still not 100 percent. “Seems like he’s got some fresh legs. He’s a guy that’s got size and dimensions,” Jim Caldwell said of Washington at the conclusion of OTAs. “So we’re hopeful that he’ll be able to learn and learn quickly. He’s missing a lot of valuable work. That’s hard to catch up on, but he’s doing his best to do so and I think he’s promising.”

3. The Wide Receiver Carousel

Ever since Calvin Johnson announced his retirement earlier this year, the Lions have been searching for someone to fill his shoes. There is no replacing Megatron – not in full, at least – but there are a number of receivers who have the potential to ease the burden of his departure. Golden Tate is returning, Marvin Jones was added in the offseason and Andre Roberts was signed on Monday morning. (The Lions also brought in Anquan Boldin for a visit on Monday.) As far as which receiver claims the number one spot on the depth chart, keep an eye on the 26-year-old Jones, who has 15 touchdowns in 43 career games, including 10 in the 2013 season. Cooter declined to comment extensively on any single player when OTAs came to a close, but said of Jones, “Marvin’s doing a good job. We’re getting him a lot of reps like we’re getting all our guys. We’re trying to throw him the ball a bunch and he’s fitting in well.”

Bonus (!) Stafford, the Gunslinger

When Jim Bob Cooter took over as offensive coordinator last season following the Lions’ week-eight loss to the Vikings, he inherited a downtrodden quarterback. By season’s end, Matthew Stafford had been revived. That was due in large part to the chemistry between Stafford and Cooter, who afforded his daring quarterback the room to make plays. Asked last week whether the term “gunslinger” still applies to Stafford, Cooter certainly didn’t back away. “We’re not going to bury that guy yet,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll put any restraints on our quarterback, you know, so there may be some short passes, there may be some long ones. So, we’re not going to restrain him at all.”

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