5 things to watch as Detroit Lions open preseason

How will Jared Goff, first-round pick Penei Sewell look in preseason opener?

ALLEN PARK, MICHIGAN - JUNE 09: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions works out during the afternoon practice session on June 09, 2021 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
ALLEN PARK, MICHIGAN - JUNE 09: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions works out during the afternoon practice session on June 09, 2021 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) (2021 Leon Halip)

DETROIT – A new era of Detroit Lions football kicks off Friday at Ford Field. There’s another new GM and head coach, and Matthew Stafford won’t be starting at quarterback.

The Lions are expected to be one of the worst teams in football, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to look forward to this season. There’s a new QB, a core of young players and it’s the first year for the new organization, which fans hope can build a winner.

Here’s a few things to keep your eye on this preseason.

Jared Goff

Jared Goff will be playing in front of Lions fans for the first time. It will be a brief introduction, as starters are only expected to play the first quarter Friday. But it is the first impression, regardless.

We’ll get a look at how Goff feels in Anthony Lynn’s offense, how far along he’s progressed in building a rapport with his targets and maybe how the deep ball looks.

A lot about what Goff can do for the Lions is unknown right now, but fans will want to see Goff look sharp out of the gate.

Penei Sewell

First-round pick Penei Sewell is also making his debut. He’s been well-regarded so far, with media and fans noting the size, strength and agility that made him the No. 7 overall pick.

Still, Sewell hasn’t faced game action in more than a year after opting out of the 2020 college football season. Live game reps after such a long layoff will be a good test for Sewell, and hopefully he highlights why the Lions picked him.

Camp stars

Every training camp has them, and at least three Lions stick out as camp stars this year.

The first is Jeff Okudah. He’s got a lot to prove after a difficult rookie season. He’s been impressing during camp, feeling comfortable in the Lions’ new defense and receptive to new coaching. He’s also healthy after dealing with an injury last year. That will help him as he steps into this season as one of the Lions’ starting corners, and a player who needs to deliver.

Next is Amon-Ra St. Brown, who’s had some battles with Okudah during camp. St. Brown has turned heads as a shifty slot option with sure hands. He could be a huge difference maker as the Lions look to replace Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay, and keep defenses from blanketing T.J. Hockenson.

We also have to keep an eye on Alim McNeil. The third-round pick from this year’s draft looks to make an impact right away on the defensive front. He’s been drawing rave reviews during camp, and will have the chance to show why in the preseason opener. He’s listed as a starter on the initial depth chart.

New-look defense

Detroit has switched to a 3-4 defense. The move has shuffled Trey Flowers and Romeo Okwara to outside linebacker from defensive end.

New coordinator Aaron Glenn has brought in linebacker Alex Anzalone from their time together in New Orleans to help with the transition. The scheme has been well-received by Lions players so far. They see it as being a better fit.

The Lions desperately need to improve on defense after years of having one of the worst units in the league on that side of the ball.

Wide receiver

It’s a whole new look for the Lions at wide receiver. The only contributor back from last year’s team is Quintez Cephus.

What starters Tyrell Williams and Breshard Perriman bring is a bit unknown. Williams was hurt all of last season, and Perriman is a former first-round pick who hasn’t made a first-round impact for the three teams he’s played for.

Overall, the Lions’ wide receiver corps have been ranked as one of the worst units in the league. The preseason is the first chance for one of these receivers to show they can be a playmaker.


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