For the better part of 2020 we have been without sports, or at least sports as we all remember them. The NBA and NHL have been successfully operating within bubbles since their return and the MLB has been operating in their own stadiums without fans. The NFL will have some fans in some of its stadiums when the season kicks off on September 10th. The Detroit Lions will be without fans until at least November. So before the season kicks off for the boys in Honolulu Blue, this Detroit Lions season preview will go over what to expect, who to watch, and other important story lines for the 2020 season. Part one will cover roster changes made during the off-season.
The Lions most recent acquisition is arguably the most newsworthy of the entire off-season. On September 3rd the Lions signed Adrian Peterson to a one year contract worth $1.1 million with additional available through meeting incentives.
This signing is intriguing on many levels. On face value the Lions are bringing in a veteran player with a Hall-of-Fame caliber resume to a team that needs the visuals that he brings to the team. Players like Calvin Johnson and Barry Sanders were players that would bring national eyes to the team and Adrian Peterson can have that same kind of impact. When you dig deeper though the signing makes even more sense for Detroit.
The Lions most experienced running back going into the season was Kerryon Johnson with 18 career games played. That is not much experience, especially since that’s out of a possible 32 career games. A player that has missed nearly half of their potential games in a career is not a player you can fully trust to carry the load. Bringing in Peterson, who has experience working with Darrell Bevell, gives you experience and reliability that you need at the position.
Detroit drafted D’Andre Swift in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He is expected to compliment Johnson and share the bulk of the carries. Peterson’s value also extends to his role as mentor he can have for both Johnson and Swift. There isn’t an active running back who can provide more in terms of knowledge and personal success than Peterson.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai was the most costly acquisition for Detroit during the off-season. He signed a five year deal worth $45 million. Vaitai will become the new starting right tackle after Rick Wagner joined the Green Bay Packers. His time with the Eagles was mostly as a back-up so his transition to a starting role with be worth watching.
Jeff Okudah, the third overall pick in the draft, was the crown jewel of the Lions off-season. He is a shut-down corner who went without a holding or pass interference penalty in his final season at Ohio State. He was sure to point that out when questioned about “sloppy” play at the combine. Okudah will be able to step in the season without the pressure of being a number one corner from the start.
That number one role will belong Desmond Trufant, who the Lions signed from Atlanta Falcons in March. He had a career-high four interceptions in only nine games last season and has 79 passed defended in 97 career games. The eight year veteran will take pressure off of Okudah to start his career and allow him to grow into the player they expect him to be.
It wouldn’t be a Bob Quinn off-season without adding at least one former New England Patriot. Jamie Collins is the most notable, as his style of linebacker is what the Lions have been needing for years. They also added Danny Shelton via free agency and traded for Duron Harmon.
Several key contributors from last season’s Lions team are wearing new colors coming into 2020. Three of those players will be suiting up for the Denver Broncos this season. Graham Glasgow, Jeff Driskel, and Sam Martin all moved west to the mile high city. Sam Martin’s departure lead to Jack Fox becoming the new Lions punter.
A’Shawn Robinson also headed to the west coast and signed a 2 year contract with the Los Angeles Rams. His departure, as well as the failed experiment with Mike Daniels, leaves the Lions thin on the defensive line.
The next part of the Detroit Lions season preview series will break down the Lions players with the best chance to win each NFL award. The third and final part will do a game by game prediction of how the season will play out.