Updating Detroit Lions' Key Position Battles Early in Training Camp

Brandon AlisogluCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2014

Updating Detroit Lions' Key Position Battles Early in Training Camp

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    With the first day of the Detroit Lions training camp in the books, the key position battles are naturally settled.

    Or not. 

    At all.

    Obviously, the first day of training camp is hardly enough time to get a picture taken, much less figure out the starting lineup. But there are some interesting tidbits to glean from the long-awaited debut of the 2014 Lions. Let's check them out.

Outside Linebacker

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    If you focus hard enough, you can hear the groans coming from Allen Park.

    Kyle Van Noy, the presumed starter at outside linebacker over Ashlee Palmer, left practice due to an apparent thumb injury.

    Kyle Van Noy left practice today with a thumb injury. Caldwell said he'll be re-evaluated tomorrow

    — Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) July 28, 2014

    Van Noy surfaced later sporting a soft cast, and the hope is he will be returning to practice immediately. Considering the coaching staff can limit the amount of damage that he'll sustain, there's no harm in getting soft reps and learning his marks.

    Unless the injury takes an unforeseen turn, Van Noy will be the starter come September.

    Relax, folks. We've got a long way to go before you start worrying about thumbs.

Right Tackle

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Again, there's not a lot that should be taken away from the opening day of training camp.

    Half of the guys out there don't even know the next guy's name. Thus, you can be certain that the coaching staff doesn't know who will win the most contested position competitions.

    Corey Hilliard at RT in the first team period.

    — Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) July 28, 2014

    But you should still know that Corey Hilliard took all of the first-team reps on Monday. However, everyone (including this writer) thinks he and LaAdrian Waddle will be splitting snaps for at least the next few weeks.

    There are few battles throughout the league that will be as hotly contested as the one waged for Detroit's starting right tackle job. Any attempt to accurately predict the winner now would be a coin-toss guess at best.

Running Backs

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    The biggest surprise of Detroit's offseason has been all the Theo Riddick talk. Very few, if any, were ruminating on last year's sixth-round pick prior to the first OTA.

    But here we are. And the praise isn't just from the media, but from middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch

    However, it's possible that the narrative might change soon. As of the close of business on the inaugural day of the 2014 season, Mikel Leshoure was the one taking the snaps with the first and second offensive teams.

    Riddick was relegated to a spot a little further down the trough. 

    Stop me if you've read this before, but there's still time for Riddick to carve out his role. In fact, considering the Saints found a way to get four running backs at least 50 carries last season, it's entirely possible that both guys will have an impact.

Cornerbacks

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    As recently as two months ago, no one would have blamed you for assuming that Chris Houston would be the top cornerback on the roster. It had been that way since he came to Detroit in 2010.

    But with his release, the assumptions turned to hopes that Darius Slay would grab the top spot.

    Slay has taken to the task diligently, spending time with Rod Woodson to better understand how to be a competent NFL cornerback.

    Slay with two good plays in a row in one-on-ones with WR's. Went up over Broyles and jumped a Tate route to break both passes up

    — Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) July 28, 2014

    It appears it's paying off. At least, the first day of practice provided a glimpse of what fans pray becomes a consistent level of performance.

3rd Wide Receiver

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    The starting right tackle is more important—but not as exciting—as the third wide receiver.

    One reason is because we all trust whichever tackle earns the nod. The other is because we have yet to find a fantasy league that takes offensive linemen into account.

    Again, little information has trickled out of Allen Park regarding the wideouts' play on the first day, with a few exceptions outside of the Ryan Broyles' inclusion on the last slide.

    The only other reports indicate that Kevin Ogletree was getting some time with the top units and that both he and Kris Durham had a couple of nice catches. 

    Now, take a deep breath. We're in this for the long haul, just like these battles.