The turnover of Lions defensive players this year has been pretty drastic.
No more tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and Mike Daniels.
It is always possible that Daniels will come back because he is still a free agent and seems open to coming back. But at this point, general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia seem happy with their new rotation.
Speaking of new players, the Lions added former New England Patriots nose tackle Danny Shelton and former Chicago Bears tackle Nick Williams this offseason.
Although Da’Shawn Hand, a third-year professional, has been around for two years, his 2019 season was essentially a wash due to injuries.
Since the Lions’ basic defense uses a nose tackle, a more mobile defensive tackle and a defensive end down, there will only be two true “starting” inside defensive linemen.
Trey Flowers is the defensive end – with the option of moving around indoors as well. This does not mean that there will be no significant turnover within the group, as there will inevitably be. It is a basic element of Patricia’s defensive philosophy.
In terms of starters, Shelton should be the main contributor to the tackle, with John Atkins and John Penisini replacing as reserves.
As mentioned earlier, Lions also use another defensive tackle that will frequently line up in 3 or 5 technologies depending on training.
As long as he remains in good health, it is likely that this job will be lost by Hand.
It’s easy to forget that Hand was the second-ranked rookie defensive lineman Pro Football Focus in ranking history, only behind All-Pro Aaron Donald.
The potential for a great athletic hand is still there.
Although Williams is not technically labeled as a starter, again be a lot of heavier alignments with him on the ground.
It wouldn’t be surprising for him to see as many shots – if not more in certain weeks – than his defensive comrades.
Overall, the startup label is more than just a statistics sheet check.
Many tackles will have the opportunity to have an impact on the ground in 2020.
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