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State of the Lions - Training Camp Preview
David Dorey
July 20, 2009
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This series of analysis on the 32 NFL teams takes a look at where teams have been over the last three years for each position - where they have ranked in the most notable categories and the hard statistics produced. This is to give a view of each team heading into training camp and what they most likely need to improve on this season and where their strengths lie that likely won't need any changes. Ending each team review is a brief summation of what to watch in training camp in August to uncover those developing situations that you can take advantage. Combining where teams have come from and what they have done in free agency and the NFL draft gives you the very same thing that NFL coaches are looking at as they attempt to improve their team for 2009.
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Training Camp Opens: July 31
Head Coach: Jim Schwartz (1st year)
Stadium: Ford Field (Dome)  Surface: FieldTurf
2009 Schedule   2009 Roster   2008 Statistics   2008 Record: 0-16

QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2006 34 156 2 596 372 62% 4208 11.3 21 22 5 13
2007 29 53 0 587 368 63% 4216 11.5 19 22 6 17
2008 28 108 1 509 281 55% 3299 11.7 18 19 20 19

Quarterback - Yet another "all new team" HC Jim Schwartz starts his reign and gets what could be the first good franchise quarterback that the Lions have had in more than a decade. Or he could end up as just another Joey Harrington. Or Scott Mitchell. Rodney Peete. Charlie Batch. Eric Hipple. Actually the bar is pretty low in Detroit and Matt Stafford appears likely to be a week one starter. To his benefit, he does play with the talented Calvin Johnson. To his detriment, there is almost no one else worth mentioning. The pass happy days of Mike Martz are long gone and the Lions are looking for a balanced attack that hopefully Stafford can lead sooner than later.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2006 263 963 3.7 7 134 102 76% 832 3 32 28 26
2007 285 1180 4.1 12 98 72 73% 490 0 31 31 19
2008 321 1225 3.8 9 88 68 77% 470 1 30 31 27

Running Backs - The Lions opted to go with the rookie Kevin Smith last year but the results were no different overall than other previous seasons. This was one of the least productive units in the NFL and something that the Lions very much want to improve on - like most every year. Smith (238-976, 8 TDs) was marginally successful and tacked on 39 catches for 286 more yards but the only other runner with any workload was Rudi Johnson who remains just a relief player. The new offense wants to rely on the rushing game more and that should help Smith to have a better second season.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 395 225 57% 2857 12.7 14 7 14
2007 436 268 61% 3370 12.6 18 2 11
2008 336 169 50% 2407 14.2 14 13 13

Wide Receivers - Calvin Johnson dwarfed all other receivers on this team last year and rightfully so - he is an elite talent that was playing alongside veritable practice squad players once Roy Williams left. And his success last year (78-1331, 12 TDs) came with quarterbacks like Dante Culpepper, Dan Orlovsky and Drew Stanton. The flanker spot is opened across from him and early candidates are Bryant Johnson, Dennis Northcutt and even Travis Taylor. With a rookie quarterback and an elite wideout already there, any other receivers in Detroit are not that attractive for a fantasy team. Even the wildly successful season of Matt Ryan in Atlanta did not benefit more than Roddy White.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 66 43 65% 504 11.7 4 22 20
2007 45 30 67% 364 12.1 1 29 31
2008 78 44 56% 422 9.6 3 26 22

Tight Ends
- OC Scott Linehan will use tight ends as receivers and often will have two tight end sets on the field to help with the blocking. The Lions grabbed Brandon Pettigrew as the first tight end drafted but he's spent his time in college working on being a tremendous blocker and not a receiver. Pettigrew should see some action but there are no other tight ends on the roster now worthy of any fantasy note.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - The Lions are installing a new offense as they do at least once every year so it will be interesting to see how the newest iteration of the Lions takes shape. Matt Stafford is a big training camp watch for those in dynasty leagues because he is gifted and has Calvin Johnson there. The Lions should offensively look somewhat like the Falcons of last year if Stafford can deliver on his promise. Camp will determine who the #2 wideout will be and how well Stafford will play.

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