ALLEN PARK -- The Lions want to run the ball much more now that Jim Colletto has replaced Mike Martz as offensive coordinator. But do they have enough of the pieces to do it the way they want to?
Colletto didn't sugarcoat it.
"That we'll find out," Colletto said three days into training camp. "We'll see."
It starts with the running backs.
Rookie Kevin Smith fits the Lions' zone running scheme and already is coming on in the competition with Tatum Bell, Brian Calhoun, Aveion Cason and Artose Pinner. But he didn't impress Colletto at first.
"The first day in pads, man, I was really kind of, 'Ugh, that's not the same guy I saw in shorts,'" Colletto said. "But I think that's just getting comfortable with carrying those pads, and now he's starting to run more like I thought he could run."
What was the problem?
"Well, he was just kind of feeling his way," Colletto said. "We all had a talk with the backs about what I think about feeling your way."
In the zone running scheme, running backs cannot be indecisive. They must make the cut and go.
Smith understands that.
"When you see something that you like, you've got to burst," Smith said. "So I'll work on it."
But first the backs have to see something they like, and the offensive line isn't up to par yet. First-round pick Gosder Cherilus, who is supposed to be a strong run blocker, has to beat out George Foster for the starting right tackle job. The guards are unsettled.
First-round pick Gosder Cherilus isn't being handed a starting position.
"I want to see the guards," Colletto said.
"We've got to get a little bit better inside at what we're doing."
Stephen Peterman remains the starting right guard. Frank Davis has been filling in as the starting left guard because Edwin Mulitalo (elbow) is on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Davis spent last season on injured reserve with a knee injury.
"Certain things Frank's doing really well," Colletto said. "Certain things he's not doing as well. But the beauty of it, he's been out of football for so long, him getting all these turns is helping him. That's going to be a benefit. After Edwin wins the Tour de France, then we'll get him back out there."
Mulitalo has been riding a stationary bike on the sideline during practice. He shouldn't have much trouble jumping back in. He played in this scheme in Baltimore when Colletto was the Ravens' offensive line coach.
And anyway, when Colletto took over, he said he would pare down Martz's voluminous playbook. He has. The Lions installed their base offense in the first few days of camp.
"We're not going to do anything else for about two weeks," Colletto said.
The Lions want to master their bread-and-butter plays, which can be more complicated than they seem.
"Even though it's one play, we can do them from a whole lot (of) different ways," Colletto said. "So it looks like there's more, but there isn't. You can make those five plays into 100, but they're the same plays."