Dominic Raiola's backside is getting a lot of attention this ifseason. First, Kitna joked that only him and Raiola's wife got to touch that tushie. Unfortunately, that is not so true as the rest of the attention has been focused on the fact that there is no one else's backside to touch -- Raiola, until today, had no real backup.
Even including Blaine "I work as a turnstile at the amusement park in the ifseason" Saipia, the Lions haven't had a backup center in some time. While Raiola has started an impressive string of games since becoming a starter his second season, to say the Lions were "thin" at the position would be laughable.
When Raiola went out with a lightly sprained ankle Rod Marinelli got to see just how...ummm....proficient? his current backups were. If you can call 6 botched snaps -- in ONE practice anything less than disaterous had the Lions been in a game situation, I'm sure you also think 3rd and goal on the 50 yard line isn't a bad down and distance to go...
Fact of the matter is, with the Lions negleting the Oline almost totally since Backus and Raiola were drafted until the last year or so -- depth was also hurt. At times, it has seemed as though being able to spell the word "center" qualified someone to be the backup center. As long as Raiola's been healthy, this hasn't been an issue.
When you are a playoff team, however, you have to prepare for injuries or the ability to rest anyone at any position. Including your iron man at center.
With Patrick struggling, and likely to miss the preseason, he was released. They also released Matt Butler, who was one of my Dark-Horse candidates to make the practice squad since he was supposed to be working at C as well. Who knows -- it's a long preseason, but for now it appears I'm better at analyzing tha predicting once again. Good news for the Lions is they landed a couple of great guys to compete for the backup C spot -- and one in particular that has me excited.
Starting C for the Rams SB winning team, he can also play guard. While he's getting older, he is best suited at this point as a capable backup-- he can do ti great -- but not over 16 games. He knows it, which is why he is in Detroit. Sure, they brought in a young kid off Seattle's pracitce squad form last year, but to me that says: We know that McCollum can be a backup C and G -- so unless you can show us you can beat him (which I doubt) he is there for one reason: Limit the reps for Raiola and the long-time Vet McCollum in camp. You have Olovsky and Stanton begging for playing time, and duking it out to earn the coveted backup spot to Kitna, and a chance to earn playing time in the preseason. They need people to snap them the ball - and McCollum is a solid veteran presence at an improtant position.
This does, however, change the equation on the Line. With how many WR, and D players they are looking at keeping, I can't see them keeping more than 9 Olineman. This means one of the Lions' young G -- Davis or Ramierez -- is in trouble or Foster will need to beat out both Cherilus to start, and J.Scott to be the backup. Scott is a swing tackle that can play both sides, and should at least be able to fill in for Bakcus if he is injured, and has shown he can play on the right if Cherilus is as well.
In other words, the Lions -- with Mulitalo's injury history and the good young G they have developing, may keep the following:
LT: Backus, Scott
LG: Mulitalo, Ramierez
C: Raiola, McCollum
RG: Peterman, Davis
RT: Cherilus, Scott
Not sure -- if they keep Foster, then Davis or Ramierez isn't going to make the team. Depending on how severe Ramierez's injury is, they hide him on the PUP and then see how things are progressing come week 6. I don't think they want to do that as it will hurt his practice opportunities -- however, that being said, they don't want to lose him either and it's no guarantee that he would clear wiavers and make it to the practice squad. Especially with the Steelers making like Detroit South having picked up both Ernster and former Lion Eddie Drummond.
Like many other position groups for the Lions this ifseason, predicting who will make it how far is definitely more challenging. This is great, as it shows the depth the Lions are developing.
In one final note, Looking at NetRat's current cap number of $729,000 and change, it appears that there will be no Spikes signing unless it's for the Vet minimum, or the Lions clear up some cap room with some unexpected cuts. BTW -- Foster would clear up about 500K in cap space. Look for cap numbers to be a consideration as the cap-strapped Lions look at who they are keeping on the rsoter when talent is comparable.
While I'm not a big fan of Raiola's backside, I'm glad the Lions finally have it covered.