Cornerback Ron Bartell is here to play, not coach

Posted Aug 2, 2013

Though he is playing the role of mentor to Detroit's young cornerbacks, veteran Ron Bartell says he has plenty in the tank to contribute on the field

Ron Bartell returned to the practice field Thursday after missing four days with a shoulder injury. Even when he was out, he was a valued commodity to the Lions because of what he brings to that group in terms of leadership.

Ron BartellCB Ron Bartell

He wasn't on the field, but Bartell could always be spotted working with some of the team's rookie and second-year cornerbacks along the sideline after a drill or team period.

Who knows, coaching might be in his future some day, but that's not why he's in Detroit. The nine-year veteran says he has plenty left in the tank and is looking to contribute on the field, as well as on the sideline and the meeting room.

"I'm a player, I'm not a coach," Bartell said. "I want to play. My job is to play and compete and I think competing makes everyone better."

But Bartell knows that at this point in his career, with dichotomy of this particular cornerback group, he and fellow veteran Chris Houston need to be both player and mentor.

"You can tell guys certain things, but some guys need to be shown, so, being able to go out there and back up things I'm trying to teach them is huge," Bartell said. "And for myself, I want to be able to help this team (on the field) and I think I can help this team."

Bartell returned to his spot at right cornerback opposite Houston with the first team defense, Thursday. He started camp at that spot but rookie Darius Slay played well in that spot over the four practices Bartell was out. Bartell or Slay are the most likely candidates to fill that spot, with Bill Bentley playing the nickel.

"He's been really good in his group," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Bartell. "He's provided great leadership; he's been talking to the other guys. He's found a way to contribute even though he's been injured for these last three or four days. It's good to get him back on the field in a playing role rather than just a mentoring role."

Bartell says all the young cornerbacks on this roster -- only he, Houston and Domonique Johnson have more than one year of NFL experience -- have him feeling a lot older than 31.

"Put it this way, they make me feel old in the meeting room," Bartell said with a chuckle. "It is refreshing because not only are they young, but they're eager. I think when you're able to get with a group like this and young guys who want to learn and compete and get better, and are willing to listen, it makes it fun.

"I think the sky is the limit if we can just stay healthy, stay together and just keep competing. I think we'll be pretty good."