Detroit Lions: Zac Robinson and 5 Lions Who Are Fighting for Roster Spots
Throughout training camp there are always interesting position battles and players who are just looking to make the team. With all the hype around the Detroit Lions this offseason, there have been some players stepping up and joining in on that hype. Zac Robinson is one of those players along with a few others that could make the team out of training camp and even make an impact this season as a Detroit Lion.
Zac Robinson: 3rd String Quarterback
You may be laughing and wondering what does it matter who wins the third-string quarterback position. If you are a Lion's fan you know that even the third QB position does matter. Last year, both Stafford and Hill suffered serious injuries, propelling Drew Stanton into playing in six games. I hope that never happens again, but because there is always a chance, it's worth stating.
Former Michigan State standout and second-round pick Drew Stanton has done a fine job as third-string quarterback for the Lions. His confidence even made him re-sign with the Lions this offseason, pretty much knowing he wasn't going to be the first or second string QB.
Zac Robinson, on the other hand, was signed last year as a backup when Shaun Hill went down with a broken forearm. He remained on the roster for the rest of the season and was invited back this year for training camp. As a seventh-round draft pick, Robinson might not be as flashy of a player on paper, but he is a very steady QB that deserves a roster spot on an NFL team.
It is an interesting battle, taking into consideration that Stanton is a hometown boy and the Lions did spend such a high draft pick on him (another dumb Matt Millen pick). Zac Robinson got into the mix in the first preseason game tossing a 28 yard TD pass to Nate Hughes. Total for the game Robinson had a perfect QB rating of 158.3, albeit he was only 2-2 for 36 yards and that touchdown, but still impressive.
It will be interesting to see who wins this job, and what Martin Mayhew decides. If Robinson does end up being the odd man out, I am sure Mayhew will work some magic and get a draft pick out of the deal.
Aaron Brown: Backup Running Back
Aaron Brown is another Detroit Lion draft pick that hasn't panned out as planned. He was only a sixth-round draft pick, but at the time he was expected to be a producer on the team instead of just hide in the background. When Mikel Leshoure went down, nobody even thought about Brown stepping up and being the player to replace him, everyone automatically thought the Lions had to sign someone. That can't be a good feeling to have if you were Aaron Brown.
With the Lions signing Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison it looks like Aaron Brown is definitely going to be the odd man out. At 6'1" 205 lbs, Brown has more of a wide receiver build and may have to switch positions if he plans to keep a job in the NFL.
Brown did show some flashes in the first preseason game though, even scampering on a 17 yard gain. He also snagged five catches for 49 yards out of the backfield.
It looks like Brown got a little upset about the Lions overlooking him and is doing everything he can to still make the team. It will be interesting to see how this position battle pans out and if the Lions go with a veteran like Bell or Harrison over Brown.
Dave Rayner: Kicker
This picture is a beautiful thing for a Detroit Lions fan. It marks the first Lions road victory since October 28, 2007 as the Lions won on a field goal in overtime against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only thing wrong with this picture is that it's Dave Rayner making that field goal, not Jason Hanson. Jason Hanson has been the Lions kicker since he was a second-round draft pick in 1992. A second-round draft pick is kind of ridiculous for a kicker, but it seemed to work out pretty well for the Lions.
That being said, it was 1992 when we drafted Hanson, so maybe it is time to start looking for his replacement. Dave Rayner could very well be that replacement. The local product from Oxford, Michigan, who played his college ball at Michigan State, is turning into a hometown favorite. He was very accurate last year in his long distance field goals as he went 2-2 for 50+ yarders.
Hanson did go 3-4 last year though in 50+ yard field goals himself and far back as 2008 he went 8-8 in 50+ yard field goals and kicked for 95.5% accuracy that year. Clearly Hanson still has the leg, but has been going through some injury troubles in the past couple years, hence why the Lions picked up Rayner. It is hard to say, but this might be Hanson's last year as a Lion, but it will be interesting to see if they keep Rayner on the active roster so he can't be picked up by another team, just in case Hanson gets hurt again.
Derrick Williams: Backup WR
Maybe the worst draft pick made by Martin Mayhew in his few years as the general manager for the Detroit Lions is Derrick Williams. He was a stud receiver for Penn State at the time and Mayhew reached on a third-round pick to take Williams. A smaller receiver at 5'11' 195 lbs, Williams hasn't yet panned out in Detroit and he is battling to keep his roster spot this offseason.
In 2009 he was a decent return man, but now that the Lions have an electric returner in Stefan Logan, Williams is very expendable. He already is showing his worth with a few drops in the preseason game and it's widely reported that he has plenty more drops at practice. It's always sad to watch one of your prized high draft picks not work out, but this one is inevitable.
With the injury to Titus Young you would think that Williams would use this extra playing time to show what he has left in the tank, but it's not working out too well. It looks like Williams will be the odd man out at WR this season as Rashied Davis and Maurice Stovall look like they are going to take over the fourth and fifth spot at WR for the Lions.
DeAndre Levy: Starting Middle Linebacker
Even though this isn't really a battle for a roster spot, it is still an interesting and meaningful position battle for the Lions. Middle linebacker is a very important position on the defense, maybe the most important. With Levy already having one season leading the Lions defense he should have the skill and experience necessary to keep his position. DeAndre Levy was, in fact, even drafted to be the Lions middle linebacker, even though he played outside linebacker in college. Levy did not disappoint last year either, accumulating 72 tackles in only 11 games to go along with 2 interceptions, one being returned for a touchdown.
Looking forward to the 2011 season though, the Lions desperately needed to upgrade their linebacker corps, and found Stephen Tulloch to be available. While leading the Titans defense from his middle linebacker position he was second in the NFL in tackles last year. It is hard to argue with those stats. Both are young linebackers though, Tulloch being 26 and Levy 24, they both have plenty of skills to enhance as they mature as players.
Tulloch did start in the middle for the Lions in the preseason game against the Bengals, but I don't think we have seen the last of Levy in the middle for the Detroit Lions.
Keep tuned in to the Lions all offseason to watch these position battles and see how they unfold.