Top five questions facing Lions this summer

ALLEN PARK, Mich. - No pads, just shirts, no answers.

It won't play out exactly a relaxing Kenny Chesney song, but the Lions brief summer vacation is officially in full swing after a brief look at the team during minicamp.

The team wrapped minicamp last week, and won't meet again until training camp kicks off next month. The Lions may have punched out, but football is still very much on Detroit's mind.

After a 4-12 season, the team made moves at nearly every position. There will be a slew of new starters, impact players, and fresh faces on the field for the Lions this season, but looking at all the storylines facing this team, here are the Top 5 Questions heading into the summer.

5. How well will Ziggy Ansah adapt to the Lions defense?

Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham say the team's first round draft pick has an uncanny football sense for someone with such little experience. That's good news when the pads are off, but come training camp, Ansah's abilities will be tested against the ranks of NFL players.

Ansah has the support of teammates, who have been impressed with his work with the first team defense.

"Ziggy has learned our defense so fast and so quick," Ndamukong Suh said.

Schwartz has pointed out Ansah's shuffling around the line at BYU as a strength that proves the rookie's adaptation. Ansah said he gained a level of comfort with the defense, and the playbook hasn't been overwhelming.

"I feel I've improved a lot, just having the veterans behind me," Ansah said. "I just come to do what they expect me to do."

That is a tall task, and one that can dramatically alter the defense's success following the losses of Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril.

4. Can Reggie Bush be the difference to make Detroit's offense more complete?

Bush made it clear during minicamp, Calvin Johnson was a major reason the 28-year old running back chose the Lions over a host of other suitors.

"100 percent he was,'' Bush said. "100 percent."

Two of the most dynamic players in football will join forces on the field, but it's the potential impact of Bush that has the Lions brass excited. When Jahvid Best was healthy in 2011, the Lions offense worked as one of the most complete, successful units in the game. Since he went down with concussion problems, the team has been searching for a consistent Robin to the passing game's Batman.

"You talk about what they were able to do when they had Jahvid Best, they were able to do something special. I definitely see the opportunity to make a difference with this offense right away," Bush said.

His role will be different than his time in Miami, and more reminiscent of his work in New Orleans and even USC. Bush will be spelled out into the slot and involved in the passing game, but his personal goals align with getting carries.

A lot of them.

"It's gonna force another defender to come down when he starts to get free and making plays," Calvin Johnson said.

Respect between the two talented players is obvious, and it's remained steady across the board. Nate Burleson admitted he was surprised Bush brought no baggage with him from South Beach. Instead, Burleson and others have said, the former Heisman winner has stepped up as a leader.

3. Can Darius Slay, Bill Bentley, or any of the Lions young cornerbacks emerge as an impact player?

The Lions secondary has been a point of concern the past few seasons, to say the least. A revolving door of band-aid players have paired up with starting cornerback Chris Houston.

The belief from within the organization is that there are diamonds in the rough collection of young cornerbacks the team has assembled.

Houston said the progression of the second-year cornerbacks was obvious during OTA's.

"They look good. All of them," Houston said, citing one main reason: speed.

Intangibles have gotten Bentley, Slay, and Chris Greenwood to the NFL, but in order to give the Lions a formidable coverage presence, performance on the field will stretch multiple areas. All of them start with confidence.

"Darius, I don't know if he knows he's in the NFL or not," defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said of the team's second-round pick.

"That is a good thing. He has no conscious. That may be the number one criteria you want for any cornerback you want on your team."

2. Can Louis Delmas be healthy enough to contribute this fall?

Delmas has been hampered by knee injuries the past two seasons, and last week expressed his displeasure with the lack of progress with rehab.

Schwartz said the veteran safety will be on the field for the Lions, but has given no timetable for Delmas' return. All that's been said is the timeline is long-term.

Signing Glover Quin to bolster the safety position was one of the team's most important moves this offseason, but if Delmas can partner with his new teammate, it would do wonders for the defense.

"Patience is a very difficult thing when you're a player," Schwartz said of Delmas. "Louis is a very tough player. If he can be on the field, he'll be on the field."

Delmas has missed 13 games the past two seasons, but the team elected to bring him back this year. They are counting on him to be on the field, and training camp will be a constant monitoring of his progress.

Unfortunately for Lions fans, an answer may take a while to develop and Delmas will likely be a variable well into the preseason.

1. What will the Lions offensive line do with such a revamped group and new pieces?

The number one question doesn't focus on one player, but rather, a unit. The Lions roster shakeups started with the offensive line, and the changes up front were the most dramatic of any position group.

Gone are Jeff Backus, Gosder Cherilus, and Stephen Peterman. In are Riley Reiff, Jason Fox, and Larry Warford. At least, that's what the picture is today.

"Honestly with the group, I've noticed great chemistry. All of them are working great," quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Dominic Raiola is the old hat now, and the longtime center says continuity won't be a problem in such a dynamic offense. Reiff and Fox have been around the organization, and the staff thinks the lack of experience in games will be overcome with time in Allen Park.

"This offseason has been important, us playing together. The preseason's gonna be important. Things will just mesh together, that's how offensive lines do it," Raiola said.

The skill players are in place, but the line will ultimately decide how steady the offense will be. Raiola packed on 15 pounds to assert more of a presence in the middle. The additions to the left and right of him will be the most important, and will be the most intriguing storyline to watch in camp.

Time to wait

These five questions and so many more unanswered topics will remain unturned until July, but until then, each day brings us closer to football.

The wait will be long, but for the Lions, the time has to be now.

Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli

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