A look at the cornerback competition

Posted Aug 6, 2014

The pressure is on to see who can be a consistent performer at cornerback and the heat picks up starting Saturday vs. Cleveland.

Teryl Austin has some advice for rookie cornerbacks entering this league.

“You better have a short memory,” the Lions defensive coordinator said Tuesday.

“Because once you get beat teams will come after you. They’ll find a way to get after you with that same concept and same route in different ways and different formations to make it tough for you. 

“So, you’ve got to have a short memory if you want to be a good corner. Eventually if you do, you’ll fight through it and if you’re talented and work hard enough, you’ll be a good player.”

It’s sound advice for Nevin Lawson and Mohammed Seisay, the two rookie cornerbacks on the Lions roster.

Second-year cornerback Darius Slay offered up a bit of his own advice on the subject.

“It’s keeping up the confidence level,” Slay said. “When you’re down, it’s hard to get back up. I just tell (Lawson) the same thing. I went through it. It’s tough.”

The Lions drafted Lawson in the fourth round out of Utah State and are hoping he will help them in some way, shape or form this season.

So not only is Lawson trying to figure this NFL thing out, but he’s also among a group of players vying for playing time and roster spots behind starters Slay and Rashean Mathis.


Lawson, Bill Bentley, Cassius Vaughn, Chris Greenwood, Jonte Green, Aaron Hester and Seisay are all trying to prove they can play a role on this team.

“We have different guys who can make different contributions,” Green said. “Different guys can do different things. Different guys can contribute in different ways and I like that about our group.

“I think I bring competitiveness. I’m going to compete out here. I’m going to play my heart out to get this job done.”

Green has played in 24 games in two seasons with seven starts.

The Lions kept five cornerbacks and five safeties on the Week 1 roster last year, but this is an entirely different staff under head coach Jim Caldwell with a whole new set of priorities.

We could see another five to five cornerback/safety split or possibly six cornerbacks to four safeties. We’ll know for certain how the numbers fall Aug. 30, when the roster has to be trimmed down to 53.

Bentley has been playing the nickel cornerback spot all camp and his roster spot seems secure at this point. That leaves two or three spots for the remainder of the group.

“I feel like I have the total package,” said Vaughn, who’s played in 54 games with 18 starts over the last two seasons in Denver and Indianapolis. “I haven’t been told different. Speed, size, physical, I can do it all. I just have to make it consistent. This is my fifth year. I’m a little bit more experienced, which makes me more comfortable on the field.”

The Lions are high on Vaughn’s experience, but also like Green’s physicality and are encouraged by Greenwood’s potential, as he’s stayed healthy through the first week and a half of camp.

Chris GreenwoodCB Chris Greenwood (Photo: Detroit Lions)

The pressure is on to see who can be a consistent performer and the heat picks up starting Saturday vs. Cleveland.

“When I look at the group, they’ve come a long way,” Austin said of his cornerbacks. “I think the key to it is that they’ve really got to learn how to play together, play with the safeties (and) figure out what they’re doing coverage-wise. 

“I like the way they compete, they study hard and do everything that you want a young secondary to do. So now it comes down to getting game reps and seeing how we can improve.”

It’s going to be the whole collection of work – practice, meetings and preseason games – that ultimately decide who makes the roster and who doesn’t and consistency will be a key factor.

“We’re a family, we just know we’re competing,” Vaughn said. “We all came here for one goal. Everybody came here to be a somebody. Everybody wants to be in that starting lineup and make their role into something.”

Unfortunately, there’s only so many spots on the roster come the regular season.