Lions’ interior line questions unanswered heading into opener

By Matt Schoch
The Detroit News

Allen Park — After shuffling the offensive line deck throughout training camp, Jeff Davidson wasn’t going to show his cards Monday.

Speaking to the media about his unit’s interior, the Lions offensive line coach would not commit to a starting left guard, a contested spot in training camp between Kenny Wiggins and Joe Dahl.

Graham Glasgow (60) and Beau Benzschawel (63) are part of a Lions offensive line that remains a little uncertain heading into Sunday's season opener.

Frank Ragnow’s ankle sprain during the third preseason game could throw a wrench into any plans. If the team’s starting center can’t go Sunday at Arizona, Graham Glasgow likely would start there, creating another guard opening in Glasgow’s spot in a unit bookended by starting tackles Taylor Decker and Rick Wagner.

It’s nothing new for a line that’s been maneuvered in and out of combinations all summer.

Speaking to that, Davidson praised Dahl’s ability to bounce between center and guard spots, while Wiggins added right tackle responsibilities to his platter midway through camp, in addition to both guard spots.

“The benefit that we’ve earned here at this point is we’ve had a bunch of guys play together,” Davidson said. “We’ve had seven different guys rotate in those positions, right guard, left guard and center.

“The wheels have not come off with the different structure of those guys.”

Potential versatility also helped Beau Benzschawel force his way on to the 53-man roster, increasing his value, coach Matt Patricia said. Benzschawel joined safety C.J. Moore and defensive tackle Kevin Strong as undrafted rookies to make the team, the 10th straight year the Lions have had at least one.

The Lions moved Benzschawel to center for Thursday’s preseason finale at Cleveland, despite Benzschawel not playing a down there in his high school or college career.

How did Davidson know he’d be able to transition?

“I didn’t,” Davidson said. “That’s the truth. Our centers really run the show for a lot of the calls up front, we put a lot on their shoulders when we do that. Wanted to see how it went, quite honestly.

“We saw tremendous growth. It’s something where we like the direction we’re going there. Like I told him, it’s a constant competition. He’s competing against 32 other teams and what they have on the back of their roster, too.

“We’ve got to be able to have that day-to-day constant improvement. That’s what he’s got to show us, so it’s on him as well.”

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.