Through July and early August, I was in full on blue koolaid mode. All of the talent lost from last season will be easily replaced, the offense is going to hum along without Barkley, and losing three quarters of the defensive starters won’t bother us.
But then injuries began to mount, and the defensive end position got hit the hardest. Torrence Brown retired after a nagging injury. Brown would have been nice to have, but the team spent most of last year without him.
Then Ryan Buchholz retired after injuring his back and requiring surgery. I had Buchholz penciled in as a starter at defensive end, and could easily slide inside on passing downs to make room for a speedster off the edge. Losing him caused me some consternation.
Now just this week the depth chart for game one was released, and Shane Simmons isn’t listed. It’s no secret that Simmons has been injured this off-season, but for the former five star not to be listed is suddenly fanning the flames of panic.
The loss of several high quality defensive ends, as well as the lack of experience at defensive tackle has me questioning things a bit right now. I still expect the Lions to start 4-0, as the first four teams aren’t exactly murderer’s row. But I think it will take a few weeks before we start to see the defensive line gel and exert its will on opponents.
Simmons will return, and the inexperienced tackles will get valuable reps. But that game against Ohio State looms, and our defensive line is going to have to be ready. I hope they will be.