Rookie Bill Bentley says Chris Houston's advice has been invaluable

Posted Jul 29, 2012

Two or three times in each of the the Lions’ first few training camp practices, rookie cornerback Bill Bentley has come off the field and immediately headed over to veteran cornerback Chris Houston to talk about the previous sequence of plays.

Bentley, the team’s third-round pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette, is leaning heavily on Houston's experience early in camp as the Lions are giving Bentley every opportunity to earn playing time early in his career.

“I don’t even know how to explain how important Chris Houston has been to me,” Bentley said after Sunday’s practice. “Chris has been one of the best veterans I’ve been around. He took me underneath his wings, helped me, and tells me when I’m doing things wrong. He’s like a big brother to me. He helps me on the field, off the field, in the film room, he just keeps me on my toes and he’s just trying to get me ready.”

Bentley has been playing the nickel cornerback spot the first few days of camp and has been impressive thus far. For his part, Houston is glad to lend some advice Bentley’s way because he said he didn’t have that when he was a rookie with the Falcons in 2007.

“I like it because nobody did that for me,” Houston said. “So I’m trying to get to him early so that he’s not focusing on the defense, he’s focusing on playing the game.

"The main thing is that he’s learning fast and knowing what he has to do. He might make a mistake here and there, but it’s corrected and you don’t see the same mistake over and over.” Houston said Bentley has been a student of the scheme since first stepping foot in the practice facility in May, which is why he thinks Bentley is already making plays in training camp.

“He has confidence,” Houston said. “He comes to the classroom and sits right in the front and takes notes. That’s what I like about him. He listens.”

Bentley is taking what he’s learned in the classroom and is applying it to the field in a way that's impressing some veterans.

“He's a guy that when you watch him, you see him grow everyday,” linebacker Stephen Tulloch said of Bentley. “I didn't hear about him until he came here, but he's definitely a guy that people are going to know about pretty soon.”

Houston, fellow defensive backs and coaches aren’t the only people Bentley seeks out for advice, either. Veteran receiver Nate Burleson, who’s matched up against Bentley a lot in camp as a slot receiver, says he’s also been impressed with the rookie’s intuitive nature.

“When I'm in the slot, I might get open on him, he'll pull me aside right away and ask me what did he give away, what can he pick up on that I'm seeing as a veteran,” he said. “It's good to see a young guy that isn't afraid to ask questions like that. Most guys come out here and they keep quiet and that usually puts them a step behind but for him, he wants to get out there. He wants to play this year. He sees the opportunity in front of him and he wants to take advantage.

Burleson said Bentley’s physical prowess has been his most impressive part of his game.

“He's not afraid to get physical,” Burleson said of the 5-foot-10, 176-pound Bentley. “And young guys usually come in a little undersized, not used to this strength of the game, and then I go in there and try to see what he's made of. I push and shove, I give him a little bit of tough love physically and he responds right back. He's not afraid to grab a little bit which a lot of DBs do and that's a big part of the game, especially when he's playing in the slot.“

Bentley said he’s just trying to soak up all the advice and the classroom work and the on-the-field instruction because he wants to play and contribute right away.

“Those guys are there when I’m wrong and they’re there when I’m right,” he said. “I try not to make the same mistake twice because there isn’t any time to make the same mistake twice. Practice is about going out and competing right now and trying to help contribute to the team.”