The Detroit Lions head to prime time. While the franchise has struggled to warrant a national audience — outside of Thanksgiving — for years, HBO and the NFL are hitching their trademark ‘Hard Knocks” documentary series to their fluffy tails.
Detroit Lions to feature on Hard Knocks
Hold onto your kneecaps, or at least keep them away from Lions head coach Dan Campbell, as the NFL’s perennial underdogs hit the airwaves on HBO this summer. The Lions were eligible for the show because they had a returning coaching staff that hadn’t made the playoffs.
While Campbell’s first season at the helm was forgettable, he wasn’t given much talent to work with. Heading into his second campaign, the Lions are at least intriguing enough to care about, especially with NFL Media cameras hovering over them.
Here are five storylines the documentary series should follow during the Lions’ training camp and preseason.
Potential QB battle … with a first-round pick?
The Lions own the second overall pick in next month’s draft, and while Jared Goff is currently in place as their QB1, the franchise might want a do-over in the form of Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett or Liberty’s Malik Willis. Pitting Goff against a rookie could be prime entertainment for the series and give Lions fans some long-term hope.
Goff, a Hard Knocks veteran, should be a primary focus regardless of who shares the room with him.
What’s a wide receiver?
Last season, the Lions had the worst wideout unit in the league. This year, they are banking on former Pro Bowl wideout DJ Chark recovering from a major injury to lead the group. Signed to a one-year deal, Chark is going to be the Lions’ top wideout, and he’s looking for redemption after an up-and-down four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds will also look to rebuild the Lions’ wideout reputation.
The return of a former top prospect
Last week, the Lions made an unusual move, bringing back draft bust Jarrad Davis to their linebacking corps. Davis, a former first-round pick, fizzled out of Detroit at the end of the Matt Patricia era and signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets last season. Now, he will return to play for Campbell, and it’ll be interesting to hear his perspective on leaving the pride for another poorly run squad.
Penei Sewell, Year 2
The Lions drafted offensive tackle Penei Sewell with the sixth overall pick last year. After spending last season getting acclimated at right tackle, it’ll be interesting to see the growth Sewell makes in Year 2. While offensive linemen typically aren’t that interesting, Sewell was one of the more well-publicized players of last year’s class.
Jeff Okudah’s return
The Lions’ top defensive player, cornerback Jeff Okudah, tore his Achilles during the team’s Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He will need to wait nearly an entire year to return to the field and documenting his journey back should make for intriguing TV. Okudah enters his all-important third season, which could lead to a massive contract extension or his fifth-year option being picked up. He needs to prove he can come back healthy and be as impactful as he was as a rookie.