It says a lot about what the rest of the NFL thinks of Lions safety
Delmas was hurt on Thanksgiving and the Lions defense wasn’t the same without him. His speed at the safety position is a difference-maker for the Lions. Cornerback
It's those two aspects of Delmas' game that were missed most when he was out of the lineup last year.
"When we lost (Delmas) the defense started struggling some," Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said during last season. "When he was out, you could tell there was a little bit of a different approach."
Delmas dealt with a sprained ankle during OTAs and the mini-camp this offseason, but is expected to be back 100-percent healthy for camp. The big question is whether he can stay that way? Delmas hasn’t played a full 16-game schedule since the Lions took him in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
The Lions added a big piece to the unit this offseason with the signing of veteran
Jones has started 85 of 107 games in his eight-year career.
By the numbers:
17: Career interceptions for new Lions safety Sean Jones, two fewer than the total of combined career interceptions (19) for the rest of roster’s safeties.
45: Margin of victory for the Lions against the Chiefs last year (48-3) in a game they forced three fumbles and had three interceptions.
14: Louis Delmas became only the 14th player in Western Michigan University history to reach 300 tackles during his college career.
The competition in camp for the starting spot opposite Delmas should be a good one. The Lions have a good mix of veteran and young talent heading into camp.
Spievey probably has the edge right now having been in the system going on three years now and finally being afforded his first offseason since making the switch from cornerback as a rookie. Jones and Coleman will be hot on his heels, though.
Jones has a lot of NFL starts under his belt (85) and knows how to play the position. He’s a solid tackler in the box, and if he runs well, he’ll have every opportunity to win the job.
Coleman, 30, came into the offseason eight pounds lighter and says he’s at the same weight and in the same kind of shape he was in 2008 and 2009 with the Falcons, when he started all 16 games both seasons and recorded 127 and 139 tackles, respectively. He's looked good this offseason.
“I feel like a young guy again,” Coleman told detroitlions.com. “I’m excited to be back and be healthy. During my best years in the league, earlier in those years, I was lighter. I moved well and made a lot of plays.
The Lions kept four safeties on the active roster for their Week 1 game against the Buccaneers last year, meaning competition will be fierce with Spievey, Jones, Coleman, Wendling, Carey and Silva for essentially three spots.
Wendling has been one of the top special teams performers in the league for years and the Lions value him in that role. He was a special team Pro Bowl alternate for them in 2010. Does that earn him a spot as one of their top four safeties?
Player to watch:
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has made it quite clear what he expects to see of Spievey starting with Friday’s first training camp practice.
“Amari is still a young player,” Schwartz said of his third-year safety this offseason. “He’s still young at the position. He’s only been playing safety for about a year-and-a-half. Inconsistent as a second-year player; he played really well at times and had some games that he didn’t play as well.
“He needs to get that off of his resume and now’s the time to do it. He’s still a young player, but that should be no longer on his resume. It’s his third-year in the system; his position coach hasn’t changed, his coordinator hasn’t changed. We need to see more consistency out of him because when he’s played well, he’s played very well for us.”
Spievey admitted his inconsistencies in an interview with detroitlions.com this offseason.
"It’s just staying consistent,” he admitted. "Obviously, I’m a talented player or I wouldn’t be here. I show flashes where I do amazing plays and then I mess up. That’s just building confidence and I think having an offseason will help me with my confidence."
Spievey missed the early portion of the offseason training program due to a concussion he suffered against the Saints in that playoff loss. It was time Spievey could ill-afford to lose, but he did return to the practice field in early June and was a participant in the team’s mini-camp that month.