Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  By DAVE DYE  |  Last updated 8/1/13
ALLEN PARK, Mich. Its been easy to dismiss Dylan Gandy as the potential new starter at right guard for the Detroit Lions. Perhaps too easy? This is an important spot to fill because the offense was hurt badly last season by too much pressure up the middle from opposing pass rushes, leading to the release of Stephen Peterman. The Lions took an offensive guard, Larry Warford, in the third round of the NFL Draft and signed two free agents with considerable starting experience in Jake Scott (128 starts in career) and Leroy Harris (39 starts last three years). But on Thursday - the third of only eight practices this training camp in full pads - there was Gandy taking reps with the first-team offense again. It appears to be a wide-open, difficult-to-predict competition right now with as many as five contenders. Gandy might still be in the underdog role, but hes clearly one of those guys who just wont go away. Hes had a good camp, coach Jim Schwartz said. Were not discounting anybody in there. Were going to rotate all those guys through and see who plays the best. Hes definitely in that mix. Gandy, 31, is entering his eighth season in the NFL, his fifth in Detroit. He played in all 16 games last season on special teams, but a total of just one play on offense. His versatility is a big reason hes kept a job in the league this long. He was active for every game the last three years as a guard-center reserve. It seems like hes just lingering around, holding on by a thread, receiver Nate Burleson. But, really, hes an asset. He can be implemented just about anywhere. Its like a great insurance policy. I appreciate that. Gandy was a fourth-round draft pick by Indianapolis in 2005 coming out of Texas Tech. He started 11 games for the Colts in 2006. He also made five starts in 2009, his first year in Detroit. I got a decent amount of playing time earlier in my career, but its been a while, Gandy said. Im excited for this opportunity just like the other guys are. Were all fighting for it. I dont feel like an underdog, I dont feel like a top dog or a frontrunner, either. I feel like were all just out there competing. Realistically, this could be the final chance for him to win a starting job in the NFL. Warford has gotten some first-team snaps over the last week. He's the future, but hes still making the adjustment to pro football. Harris missed the first few days of camp while still recovering from knee surgery last November. Rodney Austin, who was on the practice squad last year, appears to be competing more for a back-up job. For the most part, its been Gandy and Scott in there blocking for quarterback Matthew Stafford so far. The four preseason games, beginning next week against the New York Jets, will be a little more revealing in terms of how the coaching staff plans to sort out the logjam. EXTRA POINTS Devin Taylor, a fourth-round draft pick out of South Carolina, has gotten overshadowed at defensive end because the Lions' first-round pick, Ezekiel Ziggy Ansah, plays the same position. But with veterans Willie Young, Israel Idonije and Jason Jones all missing Thursdays practice to rest ailments, Taylor got some first-team reps upfront and he made a favorable impression. All the attention goes to Ziggy, but Devins had an outstanding camp, Schwartz said. Hes got a long way to go, but its encouraging that hes played his best in the full-padded practices. - Defensive end Ronnell Lewis practiced for the first time after being removed from the non-football illness list. - Safety Ricardo Silva, who started six games last season, was released, along with defensive end Spencer Nealy. To replace them on the 90-man camp roster, the club signed safety Trevor Coston (undrafted last year out of Maine) and defensive lineman Xavier Proctor (undrafted rookie out of North Carolina Central). - Rookie cornerback Darius Slay, a second-round draft pick, left practice after rolling his ankle, but it wasn't believed to be serious, according to Schwartz.
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