The Detroit Lions will face the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 with a rebuilt offensive line. Three of five positions have new starters with the most notable being left tackle Riley Reiff. Reiff replaces veteran Jeff Backus who played 11 years on the blind side. Although fans never forgave Backus for allowing Julius Peppers to sack and injure Matt Stafford’s shoulder, he was considered one of the best in the NFL at that position.
Backus’ opponent on the right side of the Viking Defensive line was Jared Allen. Although Backus contained many defensive ends in his career, Allen was the exception. Jared Allen averages over a sack a game against the Detroit Lions and with new left tackle in Riley Reiff protecting Matthew Stafford’s blind side, Allen presents a major problem for the Detroit Lions.
Reiff had an underwhelming preseason which had many fans questioning whether or not the Lions should have drafted one of the big left tackles available at the top of the draft. Reiff isn’t the only question mark along the offensive line. Larry Warford is a rookie, Jason Fox is unproven as a starter and Dominic Riaola is on the downside of his career. The Minnesota Vikings will be a difficult test for this patch work group of veterans and rookies. After week one, fans will have a good idea how effective this offensive line will be in 2013.
The Detroit Lions defensive line faces the daunting task of stopping the best running back in the game today. Adrian Peterson has averaged 105 yards per game and scored 9 touchdowns in 11 career games against the Lions.
Despite having Nadamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, the defensive line lacked depth last season and achieved a mediocre ranking of 16th against the run. To solve that problem Martin Mayhew used resources in the draft and free agency to add depth. New defensive ends Ziggy Ansah, Devin Thomas and Jason Jones possess the lateral movement to contain running backs and limit yards around the ends. If the ends can effectively contain the run on the outside it will open up more opportunity for Suh and Fairley to stop the run between the tackles.
The cliché about games being won and lost in the trenches applies to this game. The game will depend on whether or not each player can win the individual battle on the line.
All the talk will be meaningless when the Lions defend Ford Field against the invading Vikings on Sunday. Check in with Detroit Jock City after the game for all the latest news and views about the Detroit Lions.