Detroit Lions install Riley Reiff at left tackle

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The Detroit Lions have pegged Riley Reiff as their starting left tackle, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

The Lions were considering a potential selection of one of the top three tackles available in the NFL Draft — Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel, Lane Johnson — but they were all off the board by the time Detroit picked at No. 5. Instead, the Lions have decided to go with Reiff, who they took in the first round of the 2012 draft.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz told Birkett that Reiff makes the most sense at his natural position:

“We drafted him as a left tackle,” Schwartz said. “Probably with the way things ended up here, we’ll probably start him off there. We have a lot of confidence in him. I mean, that’s why we drafted him last year.”

Detroit is trying to replace three starters on its offensive line. Jeff Backus, who Reiff is replacing, retired earlier in the offseason, right tackle Gosder Cherilus signed with the Indianapolis Colts in free agency and right guard Stephen Peterman was released. Reiff can play guard, and Schwartz considered having him change positions, before deciding to leave him at tackle.

Reiff started one game at left tackle during his rookie season.

If the Lions want to improve on their 4-12 record from last season, they’ll need improved offensive line play. Detroit allowed 80 quarterback hits last season, which tied for 21st in the NFL, and 4.1 yards per rush ranked 19th in the league.

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