Lions rookies could make immediate impact

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

After a couple weeks off from summer team workouts, the Lions are preparing to start training camp next Monday, with rookies reporting to Allen Park on Tuesday. After a playoff appearance, the Lions are looking to show it wasn’t a fluke and make another run.

The Lions have seven rookies who could compete for significant playing time, with injuries and open positions.

Here’s a look at four rookies to watch:

Ameer Abdullah, running back

A controversial selection in the second round — some say Indiana’s Tevin Coleman may have been a better choice — Abdullah opened eyes during rookie camp and organized team activities.

Abdullah showed an ability to catch passes, versatility and special teams contributions. With Joique Bell’s uncertain timetable for his return from offseason medical procedures, Abdullah could see an increased role during camp.

He’s not going to bring the same speed and flash as the departed Reggie Bush, but if Theo Riddick doesn’t step into a starring role, Abdullah could be a viable fallback plan, if not more.

Laken Tomlinson, offensive guard

With a slew of movement within the offensive line last season and during the offseason, the Lions chose to select Tomlinson 28th overall and acquired veteran Manny Ramirez, with whom Tomlinson could compete to play left guard. Tomlinson is the guard of the future.

During the summer, Tomlinson played with the second group, but that could change during camp. With the lagging running game, Tomlinson’s progress could be a key position battle to watch.

Having Ramirez, though, could prove to be a shrewd move , picking up some insurance.

Alex Carter, cornerback

The third-round pick missed some summer workouts finishing classes at Stanford. But if he remains a quick study, Carter could join the fray and have an impact during camp.

There’s no pressure to try to take a starting outside corner role, with Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay comfortably holding those positions. But Carter could contend as a nickel reserve and on special teams.

With Bill Bentley gone (released), it’s not out of the question for Carter to get some playing time.

Corey Robinson, offensive tackle

A seventh-round pick, Robinson may not be packing up when final rosters are announced. At 6-foot-7 and 324 pounds, he could fit at either tackle and bring a physical style that could help the ailing running game.

During summer workouts, Robinson played some with the first group and looked to hold his own.

As has been the case in the past couple of years, the Lions need depth on the line, so expect the reserves to get a baptism by fire.

Key dates

Tuesday: Rookies report

Sunday: Veterans report

Monday, Aug. 3: First practice

Wednesday, Aug. 5: Open practice, Novi High

Thursday, Aug. 13: Exhibition opener, vs. N.Y. Jets, 7:30 p.m.