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6 Pre-Training Camp Bold Predictions for Lions – Sports Illustrated

On Wednesday, the Detroit Lions will begin year No. 2 of the Dan Campbell era.
Players are currently in the process of reporting for training camp, with the first practice of the new season scheduled for Wednesday. This is a pivotal year for many players, as the plethora of youth on the roster has created a culture of players competing for roles.
Fans will get a unique, inside look at the Lions during this year’s camp, as the HBO show "Hard Knocks" will document the ins and outs of day-to-day life of members of the team leading into the regular season.
Here are six bold predictions for the Lions heading into training camp. 
Two undrafted free agents make the final roster
General manager Brad Holmes made plenty of moves in the offseason trying to bolster the depth of his team’s roster. There’s plenty of players to choose from, when it comes to assembling the final 53-man roster upon breaking training camp.
Two areas the Lions are in need of help from a depth perspective are the offensive line and in the secondary. The five starters up-front appear to be set, but there is an opportunity for a player to make the team in a backup role.
Detroit signed a trio of undrafted free-agent offensive linemen. Michigan State’s Kevin Jarvis, a guard, could have the best chance, due to the Lions not having a definitive backup guard heading into training camp.
Elsewhere, Cedrick Boswell could crack the roster at cornerback.
Detroit has three undrafted receivers who bring different skills, with Central Michigan’s Kalil Pimpleton being perhaps the most dynamic, with his speed and ability to contribute in multiple ways.
If Jermar Jefferson, Craig Reynolds and Godwin Igwebuike are unable to separate themselves, perhaps undrafted free-agent running back Greg Bell steps in as the team’s third-string running back.
The Lions kept several UDFAs last season, including defensive backs Jerry Jacobs and A.J. Parker. Expect more of the same in 2022.
Jefferson is a notable cut
Going back to the running back position, the competition for the position’s third-string player will be intense. Jefferson, Reynolds, Igwebuike and even Bell have intriguing cases to claim the position.
Of the three returning players, Jefferson showed the least in a limited role. He embraced the possibility of playing on special teams during the preseason, but was inactive for the season’s first five games. 
In all, the Oregon State product played in just seven games, carrying the ball a total of 15 times for 74 yards. 
With Igwebuike having the possibility of helping in the return game and Reynolds showing potential as a between-the-tackles runner, Jefferson may end up on the outside-looking-in after cutdown day.
Derrick Barnes emerges as starting linebacker
After an up-and-down rookie season, much is expected of linebacker Derrick Barnes. With a wide-open competition at his position, a solid training camp performance could send him soaring to the top of the depth chart.
It’s clear that the Lions’ brass thinks the world of Barnes’ physicality, but his struggles in pass coverage were exposed and limited his productivity. With a year under his belt now, Barnes is expected to enter training camp as a much-improved player.
Right now, the Lions only have one clear favorite in this position battle – Alex Anzalone. However, Anzalone was inconsistent in his production. Beside him, however, there’s another spot up for grabs.
Barnes will compete with the newly signed Chris Board and rookie Malcolm Rodriguez, among others, for a spot, should Anzalone take a starting role. Board has been limited in terms of defensive production, while Rodriguez is still getting his feet wet as a pro.
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Expect Barnes to emerge as a real threat to win the job, with a chance at starting on the defense when the Lions open the regular season against Philadelphia.
Lions trim quarterbacks room to two
Jared Goff begins his second season as the team’s starting quarterback, and with a shade of optimism. He’s built a good rapport with new Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, and looks at home with his new plethora of weapons at the skill positions.
Behind him, however, there is once again a battle for the backup spot between Tim Boyle and David Blough. The latter opened the regular season in that place last year, after Boyle landed on injured reserve with an injury at the end of the preseason. 
It was Boyle, however, who wound up playing when Goff suffered an oblique injury in a Week 10 loss to Pittsburgh. The results were not good for the 27-year-old, as he finished 0-3 in three starts, with three touchdown passes against six interceptions.
Heading into 2022, it’s likely Campbell would be content bringing both into the regular season. However, there are more playmakers on both sides of the ball. And, the newfound depth could make it difficult to bring both Boyle and Blough and leave another potential contributor off the roster.
In the event the Lions would pick between the two, the nod would likely go to Boyle. He’s inconsistent, but has a big arm that sets him apart from Blough. 
Detroit could very well cut the room to two and bring along another young skill player, rather than keep all three signal-callers. 
Reynolds reminds Detroit of his potential, emerges as top wideout
Heading into 2022, three receivers on the Lions’ roster are catching most of the eyes. Amon-Ra St. Brown is coming off a record-breaking rookie season, DJ Chark is the prized free agent and Jameson Williams will be electric to watch, once he recovers from his torn ACL.
However, many are forgetting the impact that Josh Reynolds had on the offense down the stretch of the 2021 season. 
Though he didn’t have the numbers that St. Brown had late in the year, Reynolds emerged as a steady force, after being claimed off waivers ahead of the Lions' Week 10 matchup with Pittsburgh.
Reynolds has a relationship with Goff, as the two previously played together with the Los Angeles Rams. The lanky, 6-foot-3 wideout begins the season as a starter opposite Chark, with St. Brown in the slot.
Expect a leap of sorts for Reynolds, as he has the connection with Goff and a year under his belt in Detroit’s scheme. This will all work to his benefit.
Okudah fails to secure starting spot
One of the top storylines heading into training camp is the status of third-year cornerback Jeff Okudah, who suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in the 2021 season opener.
It’s difficult to judge the Ohio State product’s career so far, as he’s played just 10 games in his first two seasons. However, his production on the field has been disappointing, due to his status as the team’s top pick in the 2020 draft.
Okudah has clearly been motivated to return to action, posting clips from his workouts across the offseason. However, it can be tough to recover from an injury as serious as a torn Achilles. As a result of this, he could be listed second on the depth chart when the season begins.
The cornerback position is another one with an open battle for a starting spot. 
The Lions have Amani Oruwariye entrenched in one spot, but opposite him is still open. Okudah will likely be competing with Mike Hughes and Will Harris for spots on the boundary and in the slot.
Hughes has the necessary experience to come in and contribute on the boundary, while Harris’ time as a hybrid corner-safety will be an asset in the slot.
With a subpar camp, Okudah could be watching from the sideline when the regular season begins. 


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