Detroit Lions: Recapping the Latest Buzz Heading into Training Camp

Brandon AlisogluCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2014

Detroit Lions: Recapping the Latest Buzz Heading into Training Camp

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions will be starting training camp within the month, and the rumor mill is buzzing! Mostly because rumors are all we have in early July during the driest stretch of the NFL offseason.

    But that's all right. Early July is a heck of a lot closer to real football than early June. 

    So click through to find out what's going on with your beloved (or loathed) Lions as we steadfastly turn to the home stretch.

Ndamukong Suh Doesn't Have a Contract...and It's OK

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    It's all you've heard since sometime in early January—Ndamukong Suh has a $22.4 million cap hit.

    Then the saga took a turn when Suh waited so long to pick an agent and continued down a strange path when he failed to attend voluntary workouts. 

    And the latest news won't excite fans too much either, mostly because there isn't any.

    Hopefully the fans have dropped the notion of trading Detroit's best defensive player when he is hitting his prime. Players only have so long to cash in on their talents and shouldn't be chided for protecting their best interests.

    Every player in every league is essentially a mercenary. Would you like the name of another high-profile killer of this skill level? Deion Sanders.

    And if Suh can help the Lions bring home a championship as Sanders did in Dallas and San Francisco, this entire summer of discussion will soon be forgotten.

Theo Riddick Is Ready to Shine

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    There are more positive reports coming out of Allen Park recently, and many of them have centered on Theo Riddick.

    Now, Dan Orlovsky has taken a swing at a rival news team, and things have escalated quickly. He told Ross Tucker on his podcast that Riddick would fill Detroit's "Sproles role." 

    As in, Darren Sproles—the guy who caught 230 passes for 16 touchdowns the past three years in New Orleans

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a Lions fan who wouldn't be happy with those numbers, even if it comes at the expense of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. If Riddick is as explosive as these reports indicate, that will ease the burden on the top two running backs, ensuring fresher legs for all throughout the season.

    And another advantage is the insurance policy at the position that ultimately cost the team quite a bit more than realized last season. As exciting as Bush and Bell were, there is the matter of the combined nine fumbles and 16 dropped passes last year.

Ryan Broyles Is Healthy—Again

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    It's easy to dismiss Ryan Broyles in the third-receiver competition. He hasn't completed a season in three years due to serious leg injuries, making him an afterthought in his third season.

    It's not fair to him, but it's a fair assessment of an unfortunate situation.

    But perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to throw dirt on Broyles' 2014 season. According to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press, Broyles is feeling great and even looking for a speed coach to work with prior to training camp.

    Optimism is a great thing, but the past will leave you feeling sketchier than taking back a cheating girlfriend. Granted, it isn't his fault in this case, but the scars are real and the damage has been done.

    If Broyles is actually healthy and can stay on the field, this team might finally cash in on the potential he displayed when he thrashed Houston for 126 yards on just six catches in 2012. The ability to trot him out there as a fourth receiver behind Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Eric Ebron would almost be unfair.

    But that's a big if. Aside from the worry of not suffering another catastrophic injury, there's a concern that he might not be as far along as he says considering his last injury was a torn Achilles. Those aren't friendly injuries to a football player.

As Is Joique Bell

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    It isn't nearly as surprising that Joique Bell is "feeling 100 percent" prior to training camp, as he told MLive.com's Justin Rogers, but it is more important.

    For one, because no one really understands what happened. There was an infamous picture posted to Instagram that showed his knee wrapped up and was captioned with an assurance to fans that he'd quickly be in fighting form.

    However, there is little information regarding his injury beyond that. He didn't miss any games this past season but did sit out a few practices.

    Regardless, it all appears moot now, which should fit the Lions just fine. Bell will still be a large cog in the new offense, despite any assaults on the depth chart by the aforementioned Riddick.

Do the Lions Have Championship DNA?

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Can a team that has never appeared in a Super Bowl, much less won one, actually have the makings of a champion?

    Apparently, as strong safety James Ihedigbo told Justin Rogers of MLive.com, yes.

    It's one of those things, you can feel it," Ihedigbo said. "With this team, I can feel the makings of a championship-DNA team. Are we willing to sacrifice? That's the question, and I know we are. There are guys in this locker room that are willing to pay the price, whatever it is, to put the work in to be a champion. Yeah, we definitely have that championship DNA.

    It's July. Every team believes this is the year, so anything said this early should always be taken with a grain of salt.

    However, it should be noted that the new head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator have all been a part of Super Bowl-winning efforts. Not to mention the new arrivals that will actually be trying to make the plays that put this team over the top: Ihedigbo and wide receiver Golden Tate.

    Is that championship experience the missing ingredient for a team that has such a nice distribution of talent across the roster?

    Who knows? It's July.

    But it's fun to think about.

Matthew Stafford Is a Second-Tier Quarterback

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Again, it's July, and we're all mining the depths to find something to talk about. Thus, ESPN's Mike Sando dug deep, sent inquiries to "26 league insiders" and gave us the gift of a quarterback ranking system.

    Sando asked each insider to give the quarterbacks a grade from one to five (five being worst), compiled the results and placed Matthew Stafford squarely in the second tier (13th overall) with a grade of 2.98.

    Stafford has put up plenty of production over the past three years to earn that ranking. You simply can't argue away 14,655 yards and 90 touchdowns with a win-loss record when football is the quintessential team sport.

    There's no doubt Stafford cost the team a few wins over the last half of the 2013 season with his errant pick-sixes. But let's not forget how magnificent he was over the first half of the season or the 41 touchdowns he threw in 2012.

    However, the line that caught my eye was that Stafford was considered "the most intriguing starter in the league" because evaluators felt he was the most likely to ascend to the top tier.

    Does he deserve his current ranking? And, more importantly, can he make the leap in 2014?

    The former is for the comments section; the latter is for us to find out.

    Happy July.

     

    Brandon Alisoglu is a Detroit Lions featured columnist who has written about the Lions on multiple sites. He also co-hosts a Lions-centric podcast, Lions Central Radio. Yell at him on Twitter about how wrong he is @BrandonAlisoglu.