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Detroit Lions 2022 Training Camp Preview

2022 Detroit Lions Training Camp
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)

Detroit Lions 2022 Training Camp Preview

Entering year two of the Dan Campbell era, the Detroit Lions will have some work to do in the 2022 training camp. For starters, the Lions will not be in playoff contention this season. Jared Goff is simply not good enough to lead this team to a record above .500. However, the Lions will look to improve upon their 2021 season which resulted in a 3-13-1 record. That is a far more reasonable goal. D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Amani Oruwariye, and others will look to build off the back of successful 2021 seasons. Rookies Aidan Hutchinson and Jameson Williams will boost the talent level of the roster as well. Top that off with a solid offensive line, Detroit has reasons for optimism.

Three Position Battles To Watch

1. Cornerback: Amani Oruwariye, Jeff Okudah, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Mike Hughes, Jerry Jacobs

The Detroit Lions face a lot of questions at cornerback during their 2022 training camp. However, the one thing we know for sure is that Oruwariye will start at one of the outside corner spots — which is what happens when you nab seven interceptions like Oruwariye did in 2021. That leaves the Lions looking for two more corners: one will play on the outside while the other plays nickel.

The first unknown at corner is Jeff Okudah’s health. Okudah did not look great in his rookie season and he tore his Achilles tendon in year two. That is not a great start for the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Entering year three, Okudah’s health will be paramount. If he can get healthy he may be able to finally put together a quality NFL season. For this battle, the Lions could move Okudah to nickel. He thrived in the slot at Ohio State and he may feel more comfortable in that position.

If Okudah plays Nickel, that leaves Ifeatu Melifonwu, Mike Hughes, and Jerry Jacobs to battle for a starting spot. This will be a close battle as the winner is far from being determined, but Melifonwu is likely the favorite. His 6’3″ frame will help him earn time on the outside. After being drafted in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, he had a decent rookie season but he was only able to play in seven games. Hughes signed with the Lions this offseason after spending time as a Chief and Viking. He can play on the outside and nickel which will help him earn playing time. Meanwhile, Jacobs is in a similar position to Melifonwu. He started in nine games last season but never sealed a starting role. He will be given an opportunity to start but he will have to really impress the coaching staff to earn the job.

2. Inside Linebacker: Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Jarrad Davis, Malcolm Rodriguez

The interior linebacker spot is the weakest position on the Lions roster. Heading into training camp, Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Jarrad Davis, and Malcolm Rodriguez will all have a chance to earn snaps. Last season, Anzalone and Barnes each played significant roles on the Lions’ defense. However, the defense was poor. Davis was Detroit’s first-round pick in 2017 but after a disappointing start to his career, he signed with the New York Jets. After one season in New York, he rejoined the Lions in free agency. Rodriguez was the Lions’ 6th-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He had a solid career at Oklahoma State and will be in play for snaps. At the end of the day, all four of these guys will likely be given equal opportunities to play. Ultimately, whoever stands out at camp will get the most snaps.

3. Wide Receiver: Quintez Cephus, Kalif Raymond, Josh Reynolds

The competition at wide receiver will not include the Lions’ top three receivers. Jameson Williams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and DJ Chark will all have different roles in the offense. That leaves Quintez Cephus, Kalif Raymond, and Josh Reynolds to compete for targets. For the trio, it’s a competition for remaining touches considering the other players that will get the most targets in Detroit. Raymond is probably the leader right now as he played the most games in Detroit last season. He played in 16 games while Reynolds played seven and Cephus plated five.

Ready To Breakout: D’Andre Swift

D’Andre Swift is not your average type of breakout player. Swift is already a good NFL running back but this season he can become great. Swift has only played 13 games in each of the last two seasons. Most importantly, Swift needs to stay healthy and if he can, the sky is the limit. Swift has a great offensive line in front of him which will be paramount to his success. Swift’s ability as a pass-catcher also helps improve the value he can add to an offense. If that was not enough, the additions of Williams and Chark should make the Lions’ offense better which will result in more scoring opportunities for Swift.

Rookie To Watch: Jameson Williams

The Lions have a few rookies to watch. Aidan Hutchinson will look to be an impact player early, but Jameson Williams is the one to watch. First off, he was an elite draft prospect. His speed and ability to separate are special. Detroit’s offense desperately needs an elite number one receiver, and Williams will have the opportunity to grow into that player and do so quickly. Watching Williams this season will be important from a health standpoint as well. Questions remain about how well he recovered from his ACL injury that occurred in the National Championship game against Georgia in January. Campbell said it is unlikely that Williams will be ready for training camp. He will be able to play this season, but we will have to wait and see when he hits the field.

Fantasy Sleeper: Devin Funchess

Trying to determine a fantasy sleeper for Detroit is not an easy task. D’Andre Swift, TJ Hockenson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, and DJ Chark are all properly rated. Meanwhile, Jamal Williams is valued like most other backups. Devin Funchess is the only player you may be able to find some hidden value with. Funchess was a late signing by the Lions, and they announced that he would play tight end. Funchess will not have much competition to be the Lions’ backup tight end as there just is simply not much talent outside of Hockenson. The Lions could always slot him out wide and let him play in a hybrid role as well. Funchess will not be a league winner, but he may be worth a late-round pick in a large league.

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