Lions' Ragnow working at guard, but center remains possibility

By Matt Schoch
Special to The Detroit News

Allen Park — Offensive line coach Jeff Davidson was noncommittal on Frank Ragnow’s long-term position, but said he’ll stay at guard for now.

The 20th pick overall from Arkansas played mostly at guard alongside center Graham Glasgow during OTAs. But Davidson said Ragnow could still end up at center, where he did not allow a sack in 2,603 collegiate snaps.

Frank Ragnow played center at Arkansas, but could play guard as a rookie for the Lions.

“He’s been primarily at guard and that is the way we’ll probably continue to go at this point,” Davidson said. “He and Graham, we’re going to look for the best fit of where those guys fit ultimately within the system. So we’re going to be taking looks at guys from different positions.”

The other offensive lineman the Lions drafted, fifth-rounder Tyrell Crosby of Oregon, also could have position versatility at tackle or guard.

“A lot of it is how the five are functioning together, as well as the individual guys functioning,” Davidson said. “The faster we can get guys in the right position, the better it’s going to be ultimately. It’s all about non-verbal communication that happens between linemen with just those five guys functioning altogether.”

The Lions also return starting tackles Taylor Decker and Rick Wagner, along with guard T.J. Lang.

More: Linebacker Jarrad Davis ready to lead in second season with Lions

More: Lions' Stafford still looking for ways to get better in Year 10

More: 5 story lines to watch as Lions open training camp

Rivals reunited

New defensive line coach Bo Davis has kept an eye on newcomer Ricky Jean Francois since the defensive tackle was a high school standout in Miami.

Davis was a defensive line coach at Alabama while Jean Francois won a BCS national championship with LSU in 2008, also beating the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa that year.

With defensive end Ziggy Ansah starting camp on the physically unable to perform list, the Lions added Jean Francois on Wednesday. Jean Francois, who won defensive MVP in the BCS national championship game against Ohio State, playing six game apiece last season with Green Bay and New England, in addition to the Patriots' run to the Super Bowl.

“My impression of him is, he’s a great young man, works hard, and has had a successful career, and I’m looking for him to continue doing that now,” Davis said.

Jean Francois, 31, made 10 tackles in six games with the Patriots and added four more, including a sack, in the team’s three postseason games.

Tight end tutor

In a position group that lacks extensive NFL production and experience, second-year tight end Michael Roberts will have a great mentor in Luke Willson, their coach said.

“His rookie year, he just didn’t have an idea of how to be a professional,” said Chris White, who was named tight ends coach after being hired from Connecticut, where he was senior quality control director of football research and special projects. “I think with the addition of a guy like Luke Willson, who, if you want to have a definition of a pro football player, Luke Willson is one of those guys."

As a fourth-round rookie out of Toledo, Roberts made four catches for 46 yards. He was benched for the season finale after missing a team meeting.

Willson, of Windsor, made 89 catches for 1,129 yards and 11 touchdowns in five seasons with Seattle.

“Mike has seen that and I think is learning from him,” White said. “I think his daily approach in terms of the mental part of it, I think is what he needs to continue to grow.”

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.