The Detroit Lions will enter training camp next Wednesday as they begin to prepare for the 2016 season. Last season the Lions finished 7-9 after a deflating 0-5 start to the season. In the off-season, Detroit lost one of the best players in franchise history as Calvin Johnson decided to hang them up and retire. This season the Lions have questions on both sides of the ball, but are a talented bunch that could surprise some people. Here’s what to watch for as training camp begins in Allen Park, MI.
1. REPLACING MEGATRON
There is no doubt that the Lions passing game in 2016 is going to be quite different without the presence of Calvin Johnson who retired as the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. The pick-up of former Cincinnati Bengals wide out Marvin Jones is a step in the right direction, but Detroit will have to utilize all of their receivers to be successful on offense.
Expect a significant jump in production from Golden Tate who is now the undisputed No. 1 receiver and should catch close to 100 balls this season. Jones had 65 receptions and 4 touchdowns last year in a Bengals offense that featured the likes of A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert. The 5th-year wide receiver will have a much bigger role in Detroit as the projected starter opposite Tate.
Outside of Tate and Jones, 3rd-year tight end Eric Ebron might be who Matthew Stafford looks to in the red zone the most. The 6-foot-5 target has yet to live up to being the 10th overall pick in 2014, but is undoubtedly talented and will be an X-factor for the Lions this season.
Whichever way you slice it, how the Lions pick up the slack left by Megatron will have a major effect on the season.