Adrian Peterson will have a new lead blocker for the first three games with the suspension of Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton.
The fullback duties likely will be shared by undrafted rookie Zach Line and tight end Rhett Ellison, who lined up in the backfield many snaps as a rookie.
Felton proved to be a valuable blocker last season, but Peterson didn't sound overly concerned about how his absence might affect the running game.
"With Zach coming in, I think he’s been around long enough to know how we do things, to kind of adapt to the offensive line and my running style as well," Peterson said. "So I try to stay in his ear. But we’ve got some other guys that we throw in there in different formations. We’ve got Rhett Ellison in there leading blocking at times. So we should be OK.”
Peterson was asked what advice he's given Line as he prepares for his NFL debut and this unexpected opportunity.
"I try to tell him to think like a running back," Peterson said. "Don't get too caught up in the Xs and Os. Sometimes just go out there and play football. I think if you approach it that way, it'll be OK."
Jared Allen had many one-on-one battles with former Lions left tackle Jeff Backus over the years. Backus retired this offseason after playing 191 games, including 187 consecutive starts, in his 12 seasons in Detroit.
"The weirdest thing is, it makes you realize how old you’re getting, when guys you’ve played with your whole career start retiring," Allen said. "But I think he was a few years older than me so I’m good. There’s some familiarity there, so sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it can be a bad thing because you can prepare the same way, thinking you’re going to get the same process but it doesn’t always happen. We had some good matchups throughout his career."
Allen will face new left tackle Riley Reiff on Sunday. The Lions likely will give Reiff plenty of help with double teams and chips on Allen.
"I think I saw more chips and doubles last year than I’ve seen my entire life," Allen said. "It comes down to how you play on first and second down. And if you allow them to get into situations where their check-down offense is good, and they’re running the ball, and they’re in second and short and third and short, then their game plan is open. Now if you can force them to go down the field, that’s how it opens up."