With training camp opening in just a couple of weeks, the Detroit Lions have a glaring opening in their secondary. This season the Lions will be feeling the pressure from fans to make a playoff run, but that won’t happen if they can’t stop teams on the defensive side of the ball.
Now that the NFL has solidified the movement to a passing league, the Lions secondary will be facing more high powered passing offenses than ever. This means the long time weak defensive backfield of the Lions will need to step it up in 2013. Though the Lions haven’t made much of a splash in free agency for cornerbacks, they have tried to build through the draft. Because of this, there are some newcomers that fans should get to know.
First are some of the faces you do know. During the offseason, Detroit re-signed cornerback Chris Houston to a five year deal. Last season, Houston was the shining star that gave the Lions that bit of credibility it had in the backfield. He played 14 games with 56 tackles, 2 interceptions and 11 passes defended. Houston will be the one consistent the Lions can count on in the secondary, but this season it’s about the guys we don’t know.
This season the competition will be fierce for the second corner spot and who will play the nickel. That being said, there are several new faces that the fans need to know. The first semi-new player is Bill Bentley. Bentley started 2012 as the number two corner but was sidelined after three games with a shoulder injury. Bentley, just 5’10 and 182 pounds is on the smaller side for NFL corners but he has speed and ball skills. Bentley should be a front runner for the number two job due to his year of experience and ability to cover man to man.
Next is 2013 draft pick, Darius Slay. Slay who was drafted in the second round from Mississippi State will be leaned on a lot by the Lions defense. Slay is 6’1 and 190 pounds which makes him the third biggest corner on the roster. Slay is not only big, but he has tremendous speed, posting the fasted time for a cornerback in the combine. Though Slay is coming off meniscus surgery, he performed well in the mini- camps that he participated in. Slay has the ability to be an immediate impact rookie and start in week one.
Second year corner Chris Greenwood also has the talent to make a push for starting job. The 6’1, 193 pound Greenwood was sidelined with an injury that kept him out of 2012 entirely. This year he is healthy and appears to have all the tools to make a push for playing time. Fellow veteran cornerback Ron Bartell had good things to say about Greenwood when quoted from the Lions official site. "Athletically, I don't think any of us stack up to him. He has a lot of talent, but he's very raw.” It will be interesting to see what Greenwood really has in training camp.
Last but not least there is Ron Bartell and Jonte Green. Both saw their share of playing time last season when the secondary was wrecked with injuries. Green played in 15 games and started 5. His experience will add depth and he will we likely see similar playing time next year if the injuries continue. Bartell, the nine year veteran was signed late last year and immediate stepped in and started. If Bartell makes the cut during training camp then he will also add much needed depth. He is experienced and can bring some leadership to an otherwise young backfield.
Training camp will be interesting when it comes to the Lions defense and secondary. If the defense can get it together and help the high powered Lions offense stay on the field, the team should be a contender for the playoffs in the NFC.