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O'HARA: How Oruwariye has become a young leader on a young team

Amani Oruwariye's ascent in the pecking order of the Detroit Lions' defensive players can be verified in the stats.

He led the Lions with a career-high six interceptions last season – slightly more than half of the team's total of 11. He chipped in 11 passes defended, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

By any measure, Oruwariye showed in his third season as a Lion and second as a full-time starter that he has locked down one spot in the secondary as a starter.

More revealing about Oruwariye's status was the comments head coach Dan Campbell made about him Friday morning.

"From this time last year, he feels like a vet," Campbell said. "He feels like a guy who understands what he's capable of. He understands what he's good at -- what he can do, what he needs to work on.

"He's a pro right now. He's practicing like a pro. There's a comfort level. He's very confident, and it's good to see."

Oruwariye solved half the problem the Lions had at cornerback last year.

"This time last year, we were looking for two cornerbacks," Campbell said. "We didn't know. He's got to do it again. We feel pretty good about where he is over in that spot. It's good to see him grow and develop at the rate he did."

Being called a pro by his head coach means something to Oruwariye.

"I take pride in that," he said. "It means I come to work every day and be the best teammate I can be every day. I try to be the best Amani I can be for my teammates."

At 26, Oruwariye has become a young leader on a young team. At 31, defensive lineman Michael Brockers is the only player on the roster older than 29. Oruwariye is the oldest cornerback on the roster.

Oruwariye has talked to teammates Will Harris and Jeff Okudah about the situations they face. Harris and Oruwariye came to the Lions as draft picks in 2019. Okudah was drafted third overall in 2020.

Harris made a position switch to safety midway through last season. Okudah has sustained injuries that limited him to nine games in 2020 and one game in 2021.

"I told him, 'Take it day by day,'" Oruwariye said. "Obviously, I'm still here every day. If you need any advice for anything, talk to me.

"For him, it's gaining that confidence and courage to be out there and do what he does best. We all know what he's capable of."

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