Detroit Lions: 5 Players with Something to Prove in 2012
In 2012 the Detroit Lions will look to prove the playoff run of last season was no fluke, but individual players will be looking to make statements of their own.
The pressure is heating up on guys like Jahvid Best and Gosder Cherilus as they are running out of time and chances to prove their worth to the Lions organization.
Whether it is due to overcrowding on the depth chart, an injury-plagued history or past anger management issues, there are five Lions entering 2012 with something to prove.
Let's start with a young receiver that was the surprise of Detroit's draft class...
5. Ryan Broyles
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Ryan Broyles was certainly a surprise selection for the Lions in the second round of this year's draft.
He is coming off a torn ACL injury and Detroit already has quite the receiving trio in Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Titus Young. Broyles must come in and prove he is fully healthy while also showing he is worth getting offensive snaps early in his career.
He has the potential to be an electric slot man in the NFL. Broyles has great hands and no fear of going over the middle.
However, wrestling opportunities away from guys like Burleson and Young will be no easy task. Broyles will have to prove his value quickly.
4. Nick Fairley
Dave Reginek/Getty Images
Nick Fairley was a surprise selection by the Lions in the first round of the 2011 draft and, honestly, we don't know much about him yet.
He was limited as a rookie because of a nagging foot injury that prevented him from going at 100 percent for a majority of the season.
That changes in 2012.
Fairley is healthy and expected to become a cornerstone of Detroit's defensive line. He was drafted to wreak havoc up the middle with Ndamukong Suh, and this season Fairley has no excuse not to produce.
Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch will continue to handle business as pass-rushers on the outside. It is time for Fairley to clog up the middle like he did so well at Auburn.
3. Ndamukong Suh
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Ndamukong Suh went from league darling in his rookie campaign to public enemy No. 1 after his sophomore year.
Suh's violent play and dumb mistakes grabbed all the headlines and helped hide the fact he was not nearly as dominant between the whistles as in 2010.
Suh needs get back on track in 2012 and prove he is the unstoppable force that made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He has the chance to show the league he has moved on from the silly penalties and mistakes that hurt the Lions last season.
With the stable of players around Suh on the defensive line, he could be one of the top statistical defensive tackles in the league in 2012.
That is, if he can control his emotions.
2. Gosder Cherilus
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Gosder Cherilus has been given ample opportunities to solidify himself as the Lions' right tackle for both the present and the future.
He has failed to do either.
Detroit new draftee Riley Reiff will already push for Cherilus' spot at minicamp, and with the Lions seemingly content having Rob Sims and Stephen Peterman play the interior guard positions, there is little room for Cherilus to falter.
The former Boston College Eagle must prove himself in 2012, the final year of his contract, in order to have any hope of continuing to start along the Lions offensive line past this season.
1. Jahvid Best
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Jahvid Best is supposed to be a multidimensional weapon that creates matchup problems out of the Lions backfield.
Best is always hurt.
2012 may be the Cal product's last chance to prove he can become a reliable piece to Detroit's offensive puzzle.
Best has flashed greatness when he manages to stay on the field, and while it is clear he will never be an every-down back, playing a full 16-game schedule and producing will go a long way towards avoiding the bust label.
The Lions' running back situation is a mess, and some stability out of someone like Best is sorely needed.