Originally written July 18, 2013 on Fox Sports Detroit:
Here are three under-the-radar players to watch when the Detroit Lions open training camp next week. All three could play key roles: Cornerback Ron Bartell The assumption is that rookie Darius Slay or one of the team's 2012 draft picks, probably Bill Bentley, will win the vacant starting job at corner. But what if the youngsters aren't ready? Don't overlook the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Bartell. Hes an eight-year NFL veteran who started the Lions final game last season and worked with the first-team defense for most of the offseason. Bartell, 31, born in Detroit and a graduate of Renaissance High School, was signed by the Lions last December after getting released by Oakland. He was a second-round draft pick in 2005 by St. Louis. His last two seasons were derailed early by injuries, including a fractured neck in 2011. Hes got good size for a corner, coach Jim Schwartz said. He came to us late last year, picked things up quickly, played pretty well in the game against the Bears. "Hell be right in the mix, based on the way hes been through the offseason program. Defensive tackle C.J. Mosley Mosley (6-2, 310) started 13 games last season for Jacksonville before getting released during the offseason, partly because the Jaguars wanted to dump his salary. For the Lions, Mosley likely will be the top reserve behind Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, unless the club decides to re-sign free agent Corey Williams. Considering Fairleys injury troubles during his first two NFL seasons, that No. 3 D-tackle spot could be a very important position. Sammie Hill, who played in 16 games last season, left for Tennessee as a free agent. Williams, who was a starter before suffering a knee injury, is not currently on the Lions' roster. Mosley, 29, a sixth-round draft pick by Minnesota in 2005, brings eight years of NFL experience to Detroit. Safety Don Carey This is the same guy who got waived by the Lions last August after suffering a torn hamstring early in training camp. Numerous injuries to the secondary, however, led to Careys return a couple months later, and he ended up starting six of the last seven games. That included a two-interception performance against Indianapolis. Like Mosley, Carey has a key backup job in that the projected starter at his position, Louis Delmas, has been injury-prone. Delmas missed a total of 13 games the last two years due to knee problems. Carey, 26, a sixth-round draft pick by Cleveland in 2009, got first-team reps during the offseason workouts because Delmas was in rehab. Ideally, Carey (5-11, 192) would be a quality reserve and add some nice depth to the Lions secondary. But based on Delmas history, Careys importance could be much greater.
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