Today is the Fourth of July, which means there will be plenty of fireworks in the air. Amongst all the national excitement, however, everyone tends to forget that fireworks of a different kind will be beginning on the football field just over a month from now.
Viewers know about Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh, but who are four unexpected players poised to deliver some "ooh's" and "ahh's" from the Detroit Lions' faithful this fall? Considering the day, here's four options.
1. Corey Fuller, WR: When the Lions balked at drafting a wide receiver high in April's NFL Draft, plenty of people wondered why. Ryan Broyles and Nate Burleson were coming off severe injuries, Titus Young had been exiled and Calvin Johnson needed a running mate. Fuller was the selection in the sixth round, and has raw speed thanks to a track background. Providing he can get the fundamentals of the position down (which he's been working on with Johnson) he could become this player. Nobody is expecting anything from Fuller, making him the perfect candidate to explode with a quarterback like Stafford.
2. Havard Rugland, K: Already rumored to be catching on fast, Rugland, a YouTube sensation, could be the most interesting player on the roster if he's able to stick around and supplant veteran David Akers for kicking duties. A master of the trick shot kick, Rugland makes all kinds of awkward boots in his video, but the most important thing he could bring to the Lions is strength from deep. In camp, he consistently nailed field goals over 50 yards, and could use that to his advantage in a battle against the older Akers. Field goals aren't exciting, except for when a player is pounding them from deep
3. C.J. Mosley, DT: Until now, Mosley was known for laying the critical lick on Stafford during the quarterback's heroic rookie performance against the Cleveland Browns in 2009. With that play in mind and knowledge that the 6-2, 310 pound defensive tackle is a load who's been learning a new ball pursuit system from Detroit's defense, expect other quarterbacks to be on the receiving end of beatings this fall. Nick Fairley might get all the buzz and deservedly so but expect Mosley to make some impact plays, as well. He's been hidden in Jacksonville recently, but compiled decent stats there, with 70 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
4. Tahir Whitehead, OLB: Nobody knows if Whitehead will win the starting job at outside linebacker, but given his development a year after feeling overwhelmed, a breakout season could be in order. With great lateral speed and coverage ability, Whitehead would be able to operate behind Detroit's potent defensive line and could quietly evolve into a play maker in such a role. Should Whitehead nail down a starting role, watch for him making big hits on the field this year.
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