Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez identifies three additions to the Lions' offense who will make an impact:
The Lions haven't had a truly explosive running back since Barry Sanders, and they're betting Best is their new Barry. Best has looked as good as advertised. He has breakaway speed, nice cutting ability, and he makes people miss. Concussion and injury problems at Cal plus Best's 5-foot-10 frame have raised questions about his durability. But if Best can stay healthy and produce, the ground game will help set up the passing attack and help keep the defense off the field.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan talked about getting an eraser to complement Calvin Johnson, and Burleson is expected to be exactly that. Last season, opponents were able to double- and triple-team Johnson every game because the Lions lacked a complementary receiving threat. Burleson has caught about 50 balls for about 1,000 yards when he has been healthy, and the Lions expect that kind of production from one of the newest weapons in quarterback Matthew Stafford's arsenal.
This was a revolving door last year that neither Manny Ramirez nor Daniel Loper was able to keep shut. In fact, the door has been swinging for more than a decade, since Mike Compton was blocking for Barry Sanders. The Lions acquired Sims from Seattle, and he has nailed down the job. Center Dominic Raiola says Sims is the best left guard he has played with in 10 seasons. Sims will be a key cog on a unit that is expected to cut down on mistakes and keep Stafford upright.
Contact CARLOS MONARREZ: 313-222-6697 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more in his Lions blog at freep.com/lionsblog.
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