Bobby Carpenter was relatively unwanted around the NFL when Detroit signed him in October of last year, two days after Miami sent him packing. Now, though, just a few months before the (possible) start of the 2011 season, it's looking more and more likely that Carpenter starts at a outside-linebacker spot for the Lions.
The linebacking corps, arguably even more so than the secondary, looked like Detroit's biggest need heading into April's draft. Instead of bulking up at that spot, Detroit took just one LB: Syracuse's Doug Hogue, who's got a good motor and solid athleticism, but doesn't even look like a threat to start in his rookie year.
That leaves a projected starting lineup, at least for now, of Carpenter, DeAndre Levy and either Ashlee Palmer or Zack Follett — like the former given Follett's season-ending injury last fall. The Lions offered Carpenter a restricted free-agent tender prior to the lockout, so it's a safe bet he'll be back in blue and silver, and that same lockout could limit the number of guys Detroit can bring in to compete for a starting job.
The good news for Detroit is that Carpenter actually played fairly well after coming to town. In 10 games, including two starts, he recorded 30 tackles and looked more and more comfortable as the season wore on.
"I thought Bobby did an outstanding job," Lions GM Martin Mayhew said back in February. He came in and learned our systems and knew all the spots, special teams and he made some big plays for us on the field. He made a couple of big plays in the passing game for us on third down. We were happy with his performance, we thought he did a really good job.''
Mayhew and Jim Schwartz have not hesitated at all to upgrade when they feel they can, but the faith they seem to have in Carpenter and Palmer might not make linebacker as big of a need internally as it looks from the outside.
At the very least, Detroit seems comfortable rotating Carpenter and Palmer into the mix on the outside. And if the team opts to bring in a middle linebacker, Levy could slide back outside to join that mix, giving the Lions depth — maybe not great depth, but depth nonetheless.
As it stands right now, Carpenter's on the verge of becoming another solid personnel find by Mayhew, who's continually shown a knack for uncovering talent since taking over as GM.
Carpenter may never fulfill the promise he showed at Ohio State prior to being the No. 18 overall pick in the 2006 draft. Something similar to the effort he gave last year may be enough to get him a shot as a permanent starter in Detroit.
Related VideosReturning Soon!!!!
No related posts.
Short URL: http://sport-ne.ws/8m