Lions start 2nd year under offensive coordinator Lombardi
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Lions are starting their second year under offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, and the unit hopes to catch up to last season's stellar defense.
The Lions ranked 22nd in scoring offense last season yet finished 11-5 and reached the NFC playoffs thanks to a defense that held teams to an average of 17.6 points - third-best in the league.
Receiver Golden Tate, who made an immediate impact last season after coming from Seattle, said there's no pressure on the offense.
''We don't need to change our identity, we just need to be a little bit better,'' he said after Wednesday's offseason training session. ''We don't need to do too much. We just need to be detailed.''
The focus will be up front, where the Lions retool an offensive line that allowed 45 sacks last season - 22 more than in 2014. Riley Reiff and LaAdrian Waddle appear to have tackle spots locked up and Larry Warford seems secure at one of the guard spots.
Manny Ramirez, who played his first three seasons here before spending the next four with Denver, appears to be the frontrunner for the other guard spot. Second-year center Travis Swanson will be pushed into a starting role after backing up longtime snapper Dominic Raiola, who was released after last season. Rookie guard Laken Tomlinson, Detroit's first-round pick, also should vie for reps on the line.
Lombardi said he was confident the line will be less porous this fall.
''We feel real good we're on the right track to cut down on those numbers,'' he said. ''Certainly with the older guys, there's no stress their going to line up incorrectly this time of year.
''The tempo's better. Things are crisp. Guys know where to go. Things are smoother.''
The other big change is in the backfield. The Lions parted ways with Reggie Bush and drafted Nebraska rusher Ameer Abdullah in the second round. He'll challenge veterans Joique Bell and Theo Riddick for the most reps. Like Riddick, Abdullah has gotten the coordinator's attention with his ability to catch the ball.
Lombardi came from New Orleans last year after the Lions hired coach Jim Caldwell and has prized backs, who are effective receivers. The Saints never had a 1,000-yard rusher during his tenure as quarterbacks coach, but Drew Brees often targeted players who lined up in the backfield.
''It's been good,'' Lombardi said of his running backs. ''These guys get more reps and it's an exceptionally bright group. It's going to shake out well.''
The Lions complete OTAs this week and begin a mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.
Notes: The Lions released safety Nathan Lindsey and signed tight end David Ausberry. . Running back Joique Bell, tight end Joseph Fauria and guard LaAdrian Waddle didn't fully take part in drills. . Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata didn't attend the optional workouts for the second straight week. Caldwell said he wasn't concerned about the 10-year veteran's absence.