Rookies, especially those who are not drafted in the first two rounds, generally get a break when it comes to expectations in their first season.
At the same time, it’s up to them to prove they are worthy to take a valuable spot on an NFL roster and make enough of an impact to stay around.
The Lions have a handful of players who made statements as rookies. They weren’t starters but made the most of their opportunities. Now they need to take the next step.
Here are five second-year players to watch in training camp:
1. Safety Miles Killebrew initially proved his worth on special teams — the guy can hit and hit hard. Then he got a few opportunities here and there on the defense specifically on third-down packages. In two straight games in November he led the team in tackles — first he had five tackles on just a dozen defensive snaps and then four tackles on nine defensive snaps. While he seemed in terrific shape as a rookie, he has looked stronger in OTAs and minicamp. Look for his role to expand. “I see him as a strong safety for us who can play in the dime, who can play in the back because when you watch him, he has really good athletic ability and he can run and he has really good ball skills,’’ defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said.
2. Linebacker Antwione Williams did start two of the first four games last season. It wasn’t because he was ready but instead the linebacking group was beat up and he was a healthy body. He performed much better later in the season. In the recent OTAs he impressed Austin who said…
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