I am all set for my June 1st return to regular blogging -- and it is right around the corner!! things are going well, and I'm looking forward to talking Lions with everyone again!!
As kind of a pre-return piece, I chipped in my two cents for this week's return of Lions Congregation. As usual, link when the full responses are up!
1. Who starts at LG and RG this season?
This is a pretty easy one for me to answer: LG: Daniel Loper, RG: Stephen Peterman
Loper was signed to be a starter, and will be given every opportunity to win the starting LG position this ifseason. If his performances in Tennessee were any indication, he should easily win the job over Cook and Ramierez.
Stephen Peterman was a great pickup when the Lions got him -- he had played well before an injury, and ended up in Bill Parcells' doghouse. While not quite as deep and dark as Mike Martz's doghouse, it was pretty darned close. It was also a contract year for him. Let's not forget that Damien Woody ended up at RT in 2007 because Peterman out-played him at OG and took his spot. He and Cherilus were playing well as a tandem, and Smith ran well right behind them -- especially later in the season.
The Lions didn't sign Peterman to the contract they did to have him ride the pine -- they did so to keep two promising, performing young linemen together on the right side of the line. I'm looking forward to how both will do in Linehan's offense, as I think the right side of the line will now continue to be a strength for the next few years at least.
2. How many games do the Lions sell out this year?
No Clue. My guess is we have many blackouts ahead unless they win early and often -- which seems like a long shot. I will say they do better than expected, and that they will sell out 4 games. No logic, just guessing.
3. Kevin Smith believes this is a playoff team. Do you?
If the Lions get very lucky, and all of their draft picks were solid home-runs, and the other teams in the division have a lot of bad luck, and the Lions get very lucky...
Nope. They are at best an 8 win team at this point (which is still pretty optimistic, all things considered). The Dline in particular is pretty raw and how well the young bucks like Cohen, Avril, Gill, Fluellen, and Hill step up will make or break it along with the health of DeWayne White. The Linebacker unit is solid, but the secondary is also a big question mark at this point and again, young guys like Delmas, Bullocks and Keith Smith will really need to step up.
Also, you have uncertainty at the QB position -- is this the "toss it to Randy (CJ) and pray" Culpepper of 04, or the toss it in the air and pray it's my guy who catches it post-moss Culpepper. Also, how quickly Stafford develops will be another key -- and is something that is nothing but guesses at this point.
With the questions that are there, coupled with the potential that is there -- the Lions COULD be a playoff team IF they pull through on all counts... that is one big IF too. Reality and prudent sense leads me to see more of the 4-8 win range at this point, depending on the bounce of the ball, and the development of the players. It may change as camp and the preseason take place, but right now Kevin is confident, and that is good.
After all, don't we WANT the Lions' starting RB to have a bit of swagger?