Welcome to Tuesday 10, where every Tuesday over the summer, we'll count down 10 Detroit Lions who are vital to the team's success in 2013. Today, we push toward a conclusion by examining number three, a safety who has to stay on the field, avoid injury and play well in order to justify a contract extension.
After signing Glover Quin in March, many figured the Detroit Lions' ship had sailed with oft-injured safety Louis Delmas. Then, a short time later, the team re-signed Delmas to a two year contract worth $9.4 million dollars.
To some, regardless of the friendly injury clauses within, that was a frustrating move, given Delmas had been the most injury riddled player on the field at times during the past few years. Various ailments, from shoulder troubles to knee problems, had often claimed the promising safety and cost his development. Worse was knowing that if Delmas could just stay in the game, the Lions would likely be vastly improved defensively.
Now, with a new contract in hand, Delmas has to find his health in time for the 2013 season. Throughout training camp, Detroit has attempted to save Delmas, not suiting him up for preseason games and select drills. While on the field, he's looked healthy and moved well, but for most, that's not convincing enough for optimism's sake.
The only way Delmas will impress now is staying on the field, collecting interceptions, being a sure tackler and hitting big at times. To say he's the heartbeat of the Lions' defense is an understatement, as when Delmas has been in the game since 2010, Detroit has undoubtedly been better. Moreover, the team has burned through plenty of other no-name options at safety off the street in his absence, none of which have shown the ability to adequately fill in.
Now, playing with Quin, Delmas has the chance to form perhaps one of the best safety duos in football. If both play at the same time, it will be hard for the Lions secondary not to improve. Quin has been a reliable, heady coverage option for years and pairing him with a hitter like Delmas could solidify the middle of the field and clean up any mistakes the defensive line or linebackers make while aiding the secondary.
The key words, of course, are "if" and "could." This season, the play and long term health of Delmas could be the biggest variable driving Detroit's success. If Delmas sticks around, the Lions might be a playoff defense capable of making noise. After plenty of similar starts to seasons, Lions' fans are likely getting sick of living in the future tense with Delmas, though.
Considering the length of Delmas's new contract, his health chart and the state of his team, 2013 is likely a make or break year for the fourth year safety, making him a vital lynch pin to watch on the Lions.
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