MIKE O'HARA

O'Hara: Schwartz isn't ready to give Bentley a pat on the back for a job well-done

Posted Aug 10, 2012

If he didn't know it already, Bill Bentley found out in his first preseason game with the Lions that there aren't any limits on how a rookie cornerback can get burned in the NFL.

Scorch mark No. 1 came on the third play against the Lions' defense in the Lions' 19-17 loss at Ford Field.

Bentley came out on the losing end of a play that involved three rookies.

Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, a first-round draft pick, launched a pass down the left sideline to wide receiver Travis Benjamin, a fourth-round pick.

Benjamin got a half step behind Bentley to make the catch for a 34-yard gain and a first down at the Lions' 24.

It wasn't the start Bentley wanted, especially since he had played well enough in training camp to start at right cornerback on a Lions' defense in need of help in the secondary.

As it turned out, the defense got quick relief from Bentley getting burned. Willie Young sacked Weeden three plays later, forcing a fumble that Young recovered to end the threat.

Bentley recovered and played well enough while he was in the game. He intercepted a pass late in the first quarter that put the Lions in position to score their first touchdown for a 7-0 lead. Later in the half, Bentley made a sure tackle on a third-down completion that forced the Browns to punt.

Bentley also had two pass breakups. On one of them, he almost came up with a second interception.

It was a pretty decent night for a rookie playing his first game, but not good enough to keep Bentley from getting singed by coach Jim Schwartz.

"No," said coach Jim Schwartz. "It's too inconsistent play for a cornerback. Give up a deep ball – that's something that we shouldn't allow to happen.

"And we were 50-percent on making interceptions. I don't think that's a good day at all for what he can do.

"I mean, he has a chance if he knocks the deep ball away and makes two interceptions in this game to have done something for himself. But 50-50 is not going to get it done."

Playing cornerback in the NFL is a perilous occupation. There are good reasons why successful veteran cornerbacks say it's important to have a bad memory. If you dwell on mistakes, you'll lose confidence.

Herb Adderley, a Hall of Fame cornerback who played for the Packers and Cowboys, once said playing cornerback is "a predicament," not a position.

Bentley sounded upbeat when he talked to the media after the game but said he heard it from the coaches after he was beaten on the long reception.

"They got on me on that one play," he said. "I didn't do my proper techniques and got beat. But I just tried to come back.

"I played OK. I still messed up on a couple things. I would give myself an OK grade."

Even though it was his first start, he went into the game feeling confident from his play on the practice field in the first two weeks of training camp.

"Yeah, definitely confident," Bentley said. "Going out there in practice and going against our offense kind of prepared me very well to come out into the first preseason game."

It doesn't matter if some of what Schwartz said about Bentley was for effect, or if it was meant to keep him grounded.

The pressure is never off a cornerback - from his first preseason game as a rookie to the last one of his career.

Linebacker Stephen Tulloch liked what he saw in Bentley Friday night - but with obvious room for improvement. One interception was good, but it was half as many as he should have had.

"He should've (had two), but I'm sure the coaches will get at him tomorrow," Tulloch said. "But he's a heck of a player, and I'm excited to watch him grow."