O'HARA: Opportunity to compete important to Bademosi

Posted Jul 30, 2016

Johnson Bademosi wanted an opportunity to get more playing time on defense, and the Lions presented him with that opportunity.

Johnson Bademosi left a little bit of his heart behind in Cleveland when he left to sign with the Detroit Lions as a free agent in March.

The decision to change teams wasn’t all that difficult. Bademosi wanted an opportunity to get more playing time on defense, and the Lions presented him with that opportunity.

But after four years with the Browns, where he earned a reputation as one of the NFL’s premier hard-core special-teams players in addition to being a backup defensive back, Bademosi still had an emotional connection with Cleveland.

Bademosi felt the disappointment of Cleveland’s sports fans who had not been able to celebrate a professional team winning a championship in a major sport since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964.

The agony ended on June 19 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals when the Cavaliers beat the Warriors, 93-89, to win the NBA championship. Bademosi watched the game on television at his home in Silver Spring, Md.

“It was awesome,” Bademosi said. “To come back from being down 3-1 – it was an amazing story. I enjoyed my four years there. The city of Cleveland deserved a championship.”

Bademosi followed his heart in a different manner when he hit the free agent market. There were no guarantees from the Lions, but he was told he’d have a legitimate opportunity to contribute on defense.

He is trying to make good on that in training camp. Playmakers get noticed, and Bademosi got off to a good start in the first practice Friday. He batted down two passes in the team drill.

“It’s always great,” Bademosi said. “That’s kind of a goal for a defensive back. I’m competing to be a starter on defense.”

Bademosi was signed as part of general manager Bob Quinn’s plan to upgrade the Lions’ overall depth.  Quinn pinpointed the depth issue as an overall weakness early in his evaluations after being hired in January.

In his talks with Quinn and the coaching staff, Bademosi liked what he heard on two fronts. One, obviously, was the contract he was offered. He got a solid deal, based on what he’d done in his first four seasons. The other was playing time on defense.

There were no guarantees, other than the promise of a chance to compete.

“What you do is, you just tell him the truth,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of the recruiting pitch made to Bademosi. “He’s got an honest opportunity to come in and show what he can do and see where he fits.

“That’s the great thing about this camp. We have a lot of positions where we have some healthy battles.”

Strong safety is the one starting position in the secondary that was wide open going into camp. Glover Quin returns at free safety, with Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson the incumbent starters at cornerback. Quandre Diggs is back after a solid performance last year taking over as the nickel back.

Last season in Cleveland Bademosi averaged a little more than 10 defensive snaps a game. It cannot be overstated how much it means to him to have a chance to compete.

“Absolutely,” Bademosi said. “I want to contribute to this team as much as I possibly can. Hopefully, that’s on defense and special teams.

“They showed that they wanted me in every way. They came with the contract, no question.”