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2019 training camp preview: Cornerback

On the roster: Darius Slay, Justin Coleman, Rashaan Melvin, Teez Tabor, Jamal Agnew, Amani Oruwariye, Marcus Cooper Sr., Dee Virgin, Mike Ford, Andre Chachere

Key losses: Nevin Lawson, DeShawn Shead

Table inside Article
Name Games Tackles INT PD
Darius Slay 15 43 3 17
Justin Coleman* 16 55 1 10
Rashaan Melvin# 14 56 1 9
Teez Tabor 12 28 0 0
Jamal Agnew 6 7 0 1
Amani Oruwariye^ 13 50 3 11
Mike Ford 7 25 0 1
Marcus Cooper Sr. 6 1 0 0
Dee Virgin 4 1 0 0

*with Seahawks #with Raiders ^college stats

(Andre Chachere did not record any statistics in 2018)

Best competition: Who starts opposite Darius Slay?

Coleman was signed to be Detroit’s nickel corner. The Lions were in sub packages roughly 70 percent of the time last season, so that interior corner spot has become crucial to the overall success on defense. Coleman was a top six slot corner last season for Pro Football Focus, allowing just an 82.5 passer rating on balls thrown his way. He allowed just one touchdown in his coverage all year. We could potentially see Coleman outside in base looks, but GM Bob Quinn confirmed earlier this spring at the owners meetings that inside is where they see Coleman playing the most.

With Slay not taking part in the offseason training program, it was Melvin and Tabor getting the majority of the reps at the two outside spots.

Melvin is a big, long cornerback, whose style of play definitely fits the heavy man coverage scheme the Lions deploy. He’s experienced and physical, and could be the favorite to win the job heading into camp.

Tabor is entering a crucial third season after two rather uninspiring years. He made some plays this spring, but he'll have to show consistency in training camp and the preseason.

Photos - Training Camp

View photos of the cornerbacks competing for roster spots heading into training camp.

Twentyman’s take: Slay missing the offseason training program wasn’t ideal, but I don’t consider it a huge deal as long as he reports for training camp ready to roll.

With Slay, this is a deep group of cornerbacks with a lot NFL game experience.

Slay, Coleman and Melvin appear to be the top three heading into training camp, but that can always change once the pads come on and the competition ramps up.

Tabor will be an interesting one for me throughout camp. He made some plays this spring, but he also gave up some plays. He said he rededicated himself to football this offseason in hopes of jump starting his career in year three. The lack of long speed will always be his Achilles heel. Has he improved the rest of his game (instincts, technique, etc) to make up for it?

Oruwariye is the wild card of the group. It’s a tough position for rookies to come in and make an impact, but he’ll get every chance to prove himself in camp as a fifth-round pick.

By the numbers:

7: Total number of interceptions for the Lions last season, which was tied for 29th in the league. Only San Francisco (2) had fewer. Slay was the only cornerback on the roster last season to record an interception (3).

67: Slay recorded an interception at Arizona Week 14 and returned it 67 yards for his first career score. He also added three total tackles (two solo) and three pass defenses against the Cardinals to win NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

224.9: Passing yards allowed per game by Detroit’s defense in 2018, ranking them eighth best in the NFL against the pass.

91: Slay has produced 91 pass defenses since entering the NFL in 2013, the most pass defenses by a player over the last six seasons.

Quotable: “I kind of consider myself just another player to come help the team,” Coleman said this offseason. “I do a lot of studying. Corner, safety or nickel, it doesn’t matter. I feel like wherever I’m capable of playing, and wherever I can help, I’m definitely going to give my best.”

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