Lions: What To Watch For During Training Camp

Jason GruchalaContributor IAugust 3, 2009

ALLEN PARK, MI - MAY 01:  Matt Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions looks on during rookie orientation camp at the Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility on May 1, 2009 in Allen Park, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Quaterback battle

For the first time in years the Lions have a quarterback battle that will be the main story of training camp. The incumbent Daunte Culpepper has lost 30 pounds and is reconnected with the person that helped him set records in 2004 when he played for Minnesota-Scott Linehan. Culpepper is four-years removed from a knee injury that hampered him when he played for Miami and Oakland.The challenger is first-overall pick Matt Stafford.Stafford has a very strong arm,but needs to work on his accuracy. 

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has stressed that there isn't a depth chart and that everyone must earn their playing time. At camp today Stafford ran mostly with 2nd team offense while Culpepper worked with the 1st team. Stafford did however take the majority of the snaps with the 1st team during seven-on-seven drills.

I was impressed with the velocity of Stafford's throws and he looked comfortable running the 1st team. Overall I thought that Stafford out performed Culpepper at the morning practice and I feel that Stafford will start at New Orleans.

The Linebackers

Coming into the 2008 season everyone- including myself- thought that Ernie Sims would have a great shot at becoming the Lions first linebacker to play in the Pro Bowl since 2001-Stephen Boyd. Instead Sims was surround by  sub-par talent and played out of position. This off-season the Lions signed former Michigan State stand out and five-time pro-bowler Julian Peterson and two-time Super Bowl champion Larry Foote.

Foote and Peterson replace Paris Lenon-signed by New England- and Alex Lewis. Lewis was a great special teams player but never lived up to his potential when he was drafted out of Wisconsin. Lenon beat out 2nd round pick Jordon Dizon to when the starting middle linebacker spot last season. With the addition of Foote,Peterson and another year under the belt of Dizon,the linebackers look to be the strength of the defense.

Defensive Tackle
Gone are the days of Shaun Rogers and a underachieving Shaun Cody. Today, the interior defensive line is anchored by an aging Grady Jackson, Chuck Darby, fourth-round pick Sammie Lee Hill and 2nd year players Andre Fluellen and Landon Cohen. Cohen was the Lions seventh-round draft pick last season, to start camp this season Cohen did an amazing 50 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.
Hill was unable participate in the beginning of training camp after falling a conditioning test. Hill later passed the test and was able to practice on saturday and sunday.  Fluellen was inconsistent at Florida State but showed flashes of being a productive defensive linemen last season. Jackson hasn't participated in training camp thus far and still might be suspended the first four games of this season because of a postive drug test last season that his is appealing.