Rick Osentoski/Associated Press
The offensive line was a pleasant surprise last season. Every starter, excluding Jason Fox and his three starts, is back.
That type of continuity should breed success. Now, we just need to figure out which right tackle will be joining his buddies in the beginning lineup.
Corey Hilliard and LaAdrian Waddle have been battling it out this offseason for the honors. The above-mentioned Fox beat out Hilliard last season before succumbing to his annual injury in the opening tilt, while Waddle, the surprising undrafted free agent from Texas Tech, eventually replaced Hilliard.
The two have split reps with the first team in practices and the approach has carried over to the games. The results, however, haven't been so even.
Waddle was the clear winner after the Browns game. Hilliard struggled mightily, getting beaten often and getting tagged with responsibility for a sack. Waddle, meanwhile, seemed to take his second-string status personally, driving people off the line and neutralizing any pass rush.
The Oakland game didn't favor either player. Each was flag while Hilliard was beaten on a quarterback hurry.
There's plenty of time to go, but Waddle has the edge and is the more talented player. Waddle will be the starter when Detroit hits the field on Monday, Sept. 8 for the season opener, and everyone in the backfield will benefit.