Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Team Report - DETROIT LIONS

The SportsXchange

INSIDE SLANT

The biggest takeaways from the Detroit Lions' offseason program involved the team's two most important positions - quarterback and cornerback. Coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi made good on their promise to retool Matthew Stafford in any way necessary, making him do new footwork drills and adding a ladder camera to watch every single throw he makes. Stafford's play will determine the Lions' ceiling this year, and if he has another season with untimely turnovers, all of the offseason moves will be for naught.

At cornerback, the improved development of 2013 second-round pick Darius Slay was the highlight of organized team activities and minicamp. He had great coverage on all receivers, including Calvin Johnson, despite the limitations on his physicality during drills. With Chris Houston released, Slay automatically becomes the No. 1 cornerback, so he'll need to display similar confidence in August.

Looking ahead to training camp, it will be critical to see how much Stafford has grown from all the coaching help. Caldwell, Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter will continue to be hands on, and if they can improve his lazy footwork, Stafford may finally reach his high ceiling. If not, this will be a team that again fails to play up to its talent.

Wide receiver Ryan Broyles will be a name to follow during training camp. He looked solid in the offseason despite being six months removed from a ruptured Achilles tendon. He's the most likely candidate to fill the No. 3 receiver role if he ever returns to the ability he displayed at Oklahoma.

Second-year defensive end Ezekiel Ansah's health will also be worth following because an offseason shoulder injury kept him out of OTAs and minicamp. He's a likely breakout player based on his eight sacks and two forced fumbles in 14 games last year, but he'll need to stay healthy for the defensive line to be as fearsome as expected.

The two main position battles to watch in training camp will be at right tackle and kicker. LaAdrian Waddle is the favorite at right tackle after starting eight games as an undrafted rookie last season, and he appears destined to be the long-term starter. Veteran Corey Hilliard, though, will continue to battle and has a history with Caldwell in Indianapolis, which could help him. The kicker battle will also continue into the preseason with seventh-round pick Nate Freese as the favorite, but Giorgio Tavecchio looked like a worthy competitor during the offseason.

Otherwise, the overall development of the rookies will be important to watch in training camp after they played sparingly this offseason. First-round tight end Eric Ebron and second-round linebacker Kyle Van Noy should run mostly with the tight ends, but how quickly they move into those roles could signal how prepared they are for the regular season. Third-round interior offensive lineman Travis Swanson has an outside shot at a starting job, too, if left guard Rob Sims or center Dominic Raiola struggle.

CAMP CALENDAR

Players report: July 27

First practice: July 28

Breaks: August 26

NOTES, QUOTES

--Sixth-round receiver T.J. Jones was a surprise absence from mandatory minicamp, and it turns out he underwent a minor shoulder surgery during the practices. He suffered an AC sprain in his right shoulder during Notre Dame's bowl game in December and aggravated the injury in organized team activities, which led to the scope.

Jones said he plans to be ready for training camp.

"In my eyes, I don't plan on missing anything," Jones said. "I'm going to get back as quickly as I can and then come back at 100 percent."

--Rookie tight end Eric Ebron is watched the Jimmy Graham arbitration closely because he could be in a similar situation at the end of his rookie contract, and Ebron said it's time to stop calling players with his skill set tight ends.

"I believe we should either start being called a hybrid or joker," he said Tuesday. "I think thenull

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (595)