The preseason; it is made for analyzing and watching teams and players. We are wanting to see just what is going to happen. That is the case with 2016 Detroit Lions. There have been several changes to the organization. Can those changes be positive? Players changes can be positive. Let us take a look at five players who can be positive for the 2016 Detroit Lions.
Abdullah burst on the scene in 2015. He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Lions out of the University of Nebraska. He was brought in to shore up a suspect running game. He did just that. He had 600 yards on 143 carries. 2016 should see an increased role for Abdullah. He comes into the season as the number 1 RB. The Lions are going to have to lean on him to maintain drives. This will also help out QB Matt Stafford grow now that he has lost his go to target in WR Calvin Johnson. Keep you eye on the progression of Ameer Abdullah throughout the season.
Jones was signed as a free agent in 2016. He was brought in to replace the retiring Calvin Johnson. Jones was coming off his best year as a WR regarding yardage. He had 65 receptions for 816 yards. This all after coming off a season-ending ankle injury in 2014. Jones was brought in to be the downfield threat. The Lions have WR Golden Tate and TE Eric Ebron to work the ball underneath along with RB Theo Riddick. If Jones can come in and produce in a way similar to last season the Lions should have a solid offense to compete with.
Decker is a rookie offensive lineman out of Ohio State University. He is projected to be the starting left tackle. The Lions offensive line woes have been highly criticized in the past. If the Lions want to become a contender, in what is becoming a competitive NFC North, then a solid offensive line is a must. They have much of their cap locked up in QB Matt Stafford and to lose him would be devastating. Keep your eye on Taylor Decker and see if he can protect the blind side of Stafford and gel with the rest of the o-line.
Slay is quietly becoming one of the better corners in the NFL. Drafted by the Lions is the 2nd round of the 2013 draft, Slay has started all 16 games the past 2 season. He has only 2 interceptions but he has 31 passes defended in those 2 seasons. If there is a side you want to pass on against Detroit it is opposite of this kid. If he continues with his impressive coverage he will be a mainstay on a Lions defense that could become one of the best in years to come.
It is known, for months now, that Stafford has lost his security blanket in WR Calvin Johnson. Now we will see if there was a maturation process this off-season. Can Stafford distribute the ball around to other players in key situations of the game? There will be no more throwing into triple coverage and hope your guys comes down with the ball. There simply is not an option anymore. Some say that the Lions should be a better offense in 2016 without Johnson. That should, in turn, mean that Stafford is a better QB. If this is this case, the Lions could be a surprise team in 2016.
The Detroit Lions are young and improving. The main piece of the puzzle, Matt Stafford, is still the engine. If he can avoid the game-killing, Tony Romo Esq, mistakes the Lions could be a competitive ball club. They have some solid weapons on both sides of the ball. Can they put it together? 2016 will be a very telling season.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.