Twentyman: Rookie CB Bill Bentley trying not to give opposing offenses something to target

Posted Oct 7, 2012

The worst thing that can happen to a rookie cornerback early in his NFL career is to give opposing offenses something to target.

Unfortunately, that’s what Lions rookie cornerback Bill Bentley did last week when he was victimized on three deep passes against the Vikings.

In all three instances, Bentley didn’t look back for the football. Two resulted in long pass interference calls and the other, a 27-yard fade route with 2:53 left in the game, gave the Vikings a huge first down late in the game as the Lions were trying to get the ball back for their offense to try and tie the game.

Those three plays are now on tape for everyone to see and it’s a good bet Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will make a note of it next week when he starts to work up a game plan to attack the Lions defense.

“He had done a good job in practice and he can run with anybody stride for stride,” Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said this week of his rookie corner.

“I like the way he moves and he's an exciting young player but those are the details you got to learn to play in this league because veteran receivers will take advantage of it. Once they see it, they'll go right after him again and you can't put the fire out fast.”

Bentley, the Lions’ third-round draft pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette this year, earned the starting right cornerback spot in training camp, in part, because of his playmaking prowess in camp and the preseason.

Unfortunately for both, he and the Lions, the four biggest plays tied to his name so far through the first quarter of the season are three penalties and that fade route.

The other penalty outside of the two against Minnesota last week was a crucial defensive holding call on a 3rd-and-16 play for the Titans in overtime two weeks ago. The penalty gave the Titans a first down, instead of having to punt, and helped them kick the eventual game-winning field goal.

“I just have to look back for the ball next time and have to get better at my craft,” Bentley said.

Now Bentley is on the radar of every receiver and offensive coordinator scheduled to play the Lions this season.

It’s up to him to turn that into his advantage and become a better player for it.