Monday, rookies are set to report for training camp, and Reiff, Detroit's 23rd overall pick in April, will remain unsigned through at least the end of this week. Reiff could simply be waiting for other dominos to fall on the lineman market (namely the Panthers' Matt Kalil, who is still yet to sign a deal) or he could be waiting to hear his right numbers.
No matter what the holdup, this situation should cause Lions' fans to pause for just a tiny bit of midsummer concern. Initially, all reports were good from rookie mini-camps about Reiff's development. He was a fast learner, looked up to speed and seemed ready to contribute from the get-go. It was nothing but good news fast regarding a young player at a position which is often difficult to learn. At first blush, some even believed Reiff looked like he could challenge for a starting position, or at very little, generate some meaningful minutes.
However, all of that could be hampered by missing extended periods of training camp. Carlos Monarrez of The Free Press discussed the situation at length today, and quoted former NFL personnel guru Gil Brandt as saying linemen missing critical camp time can does no good for development. In Brandt's mind, injuries become an issue and performance can be slowed due to missing time in this critical period. Not exactly music to anyone's ears in the Lions' organization. To avoid this, they must work quick this weekend to get Reiff signed, sealed and delivered, even if Kalil doesn't sign. Reiff was an extremely important pick for Detroit at a position of immense need for the future. Any hiccup in development–however brief–wouldn't help the Lions at all in the future. The last thing the team needs is a lineman falling behind the learning curve of the offense. Additionally, coming on the heels of Cliff Avril's contract situation, the Lions don't need to stomach another heavy publicized holdout.
All things considered, this must be a busy phone weekend for Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand. Working hard to keep Reiff in the fold could quietly become the most important offseason move the team makes.
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