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One thing you can count on with the Detroit Lions is that they are never, ever boring. Follow the latest news including injuries, roster moves and more here daily from Oakland Press beat writer Paula Pasche. Plus you'll find regular commentary about the team.

2/18/2009

Backus a candidate to play guard

General manager Martin Mayhew recently asked Jeff Backus about changing positions from left tackle to guard, a team source said. Backus, the same source said, is open to the idea.

It's not known whether the change will take place – Backus has started every game, 128 straight, at tackle since entering the league as a first-round draft pick in 2001 – but the fact that both sides are comfortable with the move gives the Lions more flexibility this offseason and might make it more likely they'll consider drafting an offensive lineman No. 1 overall.

Both Mayhew and new coach Jim Schwartz have expressed a desire to get bigger and more physical up front, and the Lions have a vacancy at guard after releasing Edwin Mulitalo last week. (Damion Cook, who shared the starting duties with Mulitalo last season, is scheduled to become a free agent.) The Lions return Backus, center Dominic Raiola plus the entire right side of a line (tackle Gosder Cherilus and guard Stephen Peterman) that allowed 52 sacks last year, second most in the league.

“Just because 4/5ths (of last year's starting linemen) are on the team right now doesn't mean that 4/5ths are going to be starting at the end of training camp when we go into next year,” Schwartz said Tuesday. “Like I said, those decisions haven't been made. It's way too premature to read too much into that. You want to have as many options open to you when you go into the season as you can. That includes experience, that includes guys that are familiar with the scheme and everything else.”

While most pre-combine draft projections have the Lions taking Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford with the first pick, three elite tackle prospects also are available in Alabama's Andre Smith, Baylor's Jason Smith and Virginia's Eugene Monroe. Last year, eight tackles went in the first round (including Cherilus) and the Dolphins took Michigan's Jake Long No. 1.

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper predicted last week that “by the eighth pick three offensive tackles are off the board” this year.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

and the good news just keeps on coming. i think backus will surprise a lot of disgruntled lions fans if he moves to guard.

that also narrows the 'race' for stafford and smith if he does move to guard.

anyone else find it interesting that stafford went to the same high school as bobby 'curse the lions' layne?

wouldn't it be just so fitting if we pass on stafford and he becomes the next layne for another team?

that little revelation by nick on the free press has got me all muffed up about what to do with the first pick now....damnit.

11:30 AM 
Anonymous Myth said...

Nick says that Backus is claiming the only conversation he had with Mayhew about playing guard was a brief conversation last year year about whether Backus had ever played guard, and that Mayhew said there were a lot of good tackles coming out this year.

Dave, you've been killing Tom K, Nick C and everybody else with your frequent Lion updates. Keep it up! I think you are one of the best beat writers the Lions have had in at least 10 years. Nonetheless, if Backus says he never said he'd move to guard, you might want to check back with your source.

By the way, Killer starting to go back on himself and saying maybe Backus COULD play OG after all (not athletic enough, not fast enough if I remember it right). I like my news straight up without the opinion chasers.

2:30 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like Dave gets all of the Lions info first. I check this blog so often I feel like I am a Lions insider since I know everything before Killer and the otehr beat writers...keep up the great work Dave.

4:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I prefer Eugene Monroe (who was so good the 2008 No. 15 overall pick Brandon Albert had to move from OT to OG) or Jason Smith to Andre Smith or Michael Oher. Andre Smith has some Stockar McDonut (weight issues) in him and Oher has intelligence issues and Mayhew-Schwartz have said they wanted "smart" players.

6:01 PM 
Anonymous Myth said...

The thing going for Andre Smith is that he was dominant over the long haul and Eugene Monroe just wasn't. I remember reading something about a knee injury, so that may be a part of it for Monroe.

Smith is very fast off the ball, especially for a guy as big as he is (330+). He fits the run first philosophy, and he isn't bad in pass pro. (I think it may be one sack allowed this past season, and if remember right it was more of a recognition error than a physical problem.) Now if at the combine Andre measures out with 29" arms and bad knees (or something), obviously go with Eugene.

9:43 AM 

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