Lions 2024 training camp preview: Sione Vaki addition transforms RB room


Vaki was my draft crush.

I’m so smitten.


Vaki opens the season as kick returner and starts getting more and more work as a gadget guy throughout the season, lining up at RB and slot WR with lots of motion.
His ability to fill in at safety in a pinch in case of in-game injuries is a huge bonus.
Cabinda gets replaced with a hodge-podge of Rodrigo, Wright, LaPorta, Mitchell, maybe even Alim. That saves a roster spot from last season, which means they could keep a 4th RB (Reynolds), or use that spot elsewhere (9th O-lineman? 11th D-lineman? Late vet signing?).

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Right now I have us at 10 OL, 4 RB, 4 TE.

This is possible because I PUP Moseley & Rakestraw.

GIBBY—— Vaki

PS Zonovan Knight

Which is crazy because he’s a good back

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So, some tape of him rushing and receiving, starts at about the 3:50 mark, safety play before that.

Honestly, there’s some there, there, but I just don’t know how his game is going to translate in the NFL.


Fair for sure.

I expect him a big time ST player
Kickoff, Kick Return, Punt Return, Punt Block, Punt team

I expect him to be a Gibby backup…dude that can slide into slot WR from 2back set

I expect him as an emergency Will Harris dude if we need someone to get us out of an injury jam at DB during a game.

I see the genius of the pick as far as roster creation goes

Pittman, Woods, Board, JRM, Rodrigo all 350+ snaps on ST. 20-22 snaps a game


Hulk Hogan Sport GIF by WWE

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I don’t expect him to be a return man at all and wonder why anyone would considering the options we already have on the team. He clocked a 4.6 and change I believe, the USC d made him look all world but that wasn’t much of a test. Why would they take Raymond off return duties, he has averaged over 11 yards per punt return in all 3 seasons here and had the most returns in the league last season with 29. If he’s the option doing KO returns I wonder about our competition.

The article states how the new Kickoff rules very guys that are shifty and quick.

So take the 4.6 40 time and throw it away like we did with Branch’s 4.59 40

I think it’s a good role for Vaki.


Personally I believe the new rules will create a new type of returner. There will be an emphasis on guys who are used to navigating a crowd (running backs) as opposed to guys who are used to operating in space. I think breakaway speed will become much less important, while vision, the ability to follow blocking, and contact balance become much more so. I also think with the lower injury risks you might see some better players back there.

While those will matter, that has always been true (though I suspect here they mean ‘guys who don’t have breakaway speed’). But as I mentioned before vision and contact balance will be important as well. What a RB sees on a play-by-play basis will be much more similar to the new kickoffs. A little bit more of a run-up, but also more guys across the horizontal plane. And all of them focused on you.


Gonna be tough because I think Zonovan Knight will be a great kick returner in the new set up.

We might have to trade that dude for a 2025 6th

I agree with your 10, 4, 4 numbers but I don’t think it has anything to do with Moseley and Rake Rake should be off PUP well before the season starts and Moseley has a chance as well.
If there are no injury adjustments to the roster I think Holmes goes with a balanced 25 Offense, 25 Defense, 3 Specialist.
Finishing out the offense with 5 WR, 2 QB.

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I got 25 and 25 as well.

10 DL
5 LB
9 DB includes Gilmore, Dorsey, CJ Moore

Last spot Betts vs B. Joseph

If we don’t PUP Rakestraw & Moseley

Then we are going to have to cut some good ST guys (Dorsey/CJ)

Or Gilmore who made the team last year.

So I guess technically you are correct about it having nothing to do with PUP

But Dorsey & CJ Moore are good ST guys that I think would benefit us by keeping them

The change in Kickoff makes it more like a running play from scrimmage as @Thats2 stated. The NFL is intent on taking the full speed out of this play to reduce injuries.
Also, Raymond is more a punt returner than KO returner. His role likely won’t change unless he is needed more as a WR than in the past.

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He has a lot of St. Brown attributes. Really good start/stop/cut ability. He does look raw, especially catching the ball.

The hard part is he came out nowhere and surprised a few teams with no tape on him.

Craig Reynolds kind of did that a few years ago to when force to start. He’s still a good tough player but hasn’t been able to produce consistently like a starter would need to.

Vaki is probably a little more dynamic than Craig, especially as a receiver. Don’t think we can expect much more production than James Mitchell, C. Reynolds, or Brock Wright unless it’s in the return game.

Agreed. Before we drafted Vaki he was my favorite option for the job.


Apples and oranges, Branch has instinct.

That’s why I only mentioned him as a punt returner. It’s also why Vaki won’t be taking over those duties as was the “theory” that I responded to. These assumptions that the new guy will be the starter in a position no one has ever played in the NFL before is a little over the top.

He clocked at 21.5. I think his football speed is pretty good and give them new KR rules I can see the allure. Sure he may get caught from behind but I think the higher frequency that he may be able to generate chunk gains would make up for it.

I think it’s the receiving game where he really makes his mark over time.


Vaki the new Theo Riddick

Love it

Riddick ran a 4.68


I agree with 10 DL, 5 LB, 10 DB.
There will be much more competition on defense.
I don’t see how Gilmore can make the 53. He was kept on the roster last year but they didn’t feel confident enough to play him and took Vildor off the street.
Furthermore, if they had plans for Gilmore they wouldn’t have gone out to bring 4 new CB’s into the organization.
I think he is a Practice Squad guy without injuries. Gilmore really needs to bulk up to be an NFL CB.
20 slots on defense are locks.
DT (4): McNeill, Reader, BroMart, Wingo
Edge / Hybrid (3): Hutch, Davenport, Paschal
LB (5): Anzalone, Campbell, Barnes, Rodrigo, JRM
CB (5): Davis, Arnold, Rake, Robertson, Moseley
S (3): Branch, Kerby, Iffy
Reader is the player that is most likely to start the season on PUP. That could open up a roster spot on defense.

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