Players to watch during Lions minicamp – The Oakland Press
The Detroit Lions are heading into the final stage of the offseason – the mandatory minicamp.
This phase of the offseason will last three days, from June 7 to 9, and will allow Lions head coach Dan Campbell to see his entire team together. Although it won’t last long, the Leos will still gain valuable experience together.
As part of this, there will be plenty of players to watch as the season approaches. Here are 10 to watch out for throughout the process.
OT PENEI SEWELL
He’s no longer the top priority after completing his first season, but there are still plenty of eyes on Penei Sewell as he prepares for his second year.
The Oregon product was one of the league’s top rookie linemen last season, sparking debate over who was the better choice between him and Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Sewell will help end Detroit’s offensive line, alongside Taylor Decker, the wise veteran of the team’s otherwise young offensive line. How he develops and anchors the offense is important to the Lions’ vision for success in the NFC North.
CB JEFF OKUDAH and DE ROMEO OKWARA
It is very rare that two players are in such a difficult situation. However, the Lions have been hit hard by the injury bug and have two defensive players, Jeff Okudah and Romeo Okwara, tending to torn Achilles injuries.
Okudah suffered his injury in Week 1, with Okwara crashing in Week 4. That means three weeks apart their injuries, but they’re probably very close to each other when it comes to rehab.
Campbell wants to see both back on the court for the start of the season and has openly said he thinks Okudah will be ready for training camp. It’s a big season for both as Okudah nears the end of his rookie contract and Okwara tries to prove he belongs alongside rookie darling Aidan Hutchinson on the edge.
TE TJ HOCKENSON
Although Lions general manager Brad Holmes and team front office officials have opted to go for the fifth-year option over Hockenson, there is a lack of long-term stability regarding his contract. Currently, he is set to become a free agent after the 2023 season.
He’s been an important part of Detroit’s offense since being drafted 8th overall in 2019, and he certainly projects himself as a player who will help the team in the long run. Despite this, however, one wonders if it will be worthy of the price imposed on it.
With the recent increase in the number of players resisting or requesting trades due to contract disputes, this situation is worth monitoring. How the Lions handle this situation this year could determine what happens in the future.
CB/S WILL HARRIS
Harris became someone who could see first-team representatives during the regular season. With Okudah and Jerry Jacobs both in rehab, Harris had some snaps with the first unit during OTAs.
Originally a safety, Harris was thrust into cornerback action when Amani Oruwariye, Jacobs and Okudah were all lost for the season at various times. He struggled at the safety position, but seemed comfortable in the corner after spending an extended time there.
The Boston College product told reporters he would play where he was, but a strong performance this offseason could keep him around the corner. Regardless, he seems determined to learn every potential location, in case he is placed there.
WR DJ CHARK
The new toy on offense, Chark is a long and fast receiver who will cause problems for opposing defenses. He brings an element that Detroit hasn’t had on offense in a while, as he’s big enough to win one-on-one and quick enough to slip past defenders with ease.
The Lions hope he quickly establishes a relationship with quarterback Jared Goff. These two people working together will be critical to Detroit’s success in the near future.
One of the few outside moves Detroit made this offseason, Chark is a player Holmes and company rely on to be productive.
CB MIKE HUGHES
Another off-season addition, Hughes comes to Detroit after playing four seasons in the league. It remains to be seen what his role will look like with his new team, but he brings a unique veteran presence to the team despite being only 25 years old.
Having seen the inside and outside of the NFL for four seasons, he has gained valuable experience that will go a long way in teaching the plethora of youngsters in the defensive back room. At 25, he’s tied with Mark Gilbert and rookie Chase Lucas for second-oldest in the position group.
At the very least, Hughes could end up becoming a major special teams contributor. How he performs during this part of the offseason will establish a key first impression.
LB JARRAD DAVIS
Returning to Detroit after a year with the New York Jets, Davis returns to the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Although he never lived up to his billing, there were times throughout his first term when Davis was very helpful.
Now he’s tasked with remaining a factor on defense, while serving as a mentor in the linebacker room. With sophomore Derrick Barnes and rookie Malcolm Rodriguez looking for advice, the perspective Davis gives will be crucial.
The fifth-year pro will compete for reps alongside Alex Anzalone and others. How the former Lions defender fares in his second come-around with the team could make or break his hopes of being a go-to defensive option.
QB TIM BOYLE and DAVID BLOUGH
One area the Lions want to feel good about is quarterbacking. While Jared Goff was good down the stretch in 2021, Tim Boyle was not in three starts. The former Green Bay Packers backup threw for three touchdowns and six interceptions in his first three games as a starting flagger.
David Blough, meanwhile, only played one game and threw no passes. He was inactive for many games in which both Boyle and Goff were active. Yet, despite uncertainty over the future of Boyle and Blough, Holmes re-signed the two.
With neither having enough track records to position themselves as the best option behind Goff, this is likely a battle that will continue into training camp and the preseason months.
Only time will tell if the two are guaranteed to make the roster, or if one is destined to have played his last snaps as a member of the Lions.
This article was produced by the staff of Sports Illustrated/All Lions. To learn more, visit si.com/nfl/lions.