Amani Oruwariye busted his butt in practice the first half of last season and eventually earned the trust of the Detroit Lions coaching staff and a role on the outside at cornerback in Detroit's defense the second half of the season.
Like all rookies, Oruwariye had some ups and downs when given the chance to play, but when it was all said and done, there were more ups than downs, including his first two career interceptions. He's got prototypical size (6-2, 205) for the position with speed and a skill set that fits Detroit's man-cover scheme.
"I mean, honestly, Amani's done a great job of coming in and just picking up where I think he left off," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. "Physically, he's got some amazing tools. He's quick. He's long. He can play physical."
Patricia talked about Oruwariye's ability to see the field and recognize what's happening in front of him as being one of his biggest improvements early in training camp.
"I think when you come in as a corner, as a young corner, (your visions is) very narrow," Patricia said. "You're very concerned with your alignment, your matchup, your guy, your player, your coverage. The more comfortable they get, they actually start to look at the rest of the field.
"It's just a whole different position. It's how you see the field. You see it outside in. Most of the players on the field see it inside out. And I think he's starting to be able to do that a little bit more and have a little bit more of awareness of what's around him, which hopefully will make him play faster and put him in a position to make more plays."
It's been Oruwariye, and not No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah, who's been getting most of the first-team reps opposite veteran Desmond Trufant this first week of padded training camp practice open to the media. Some of that might be easing the rookie Okudah in, but it could also be a reflection of the way Oruwariye worked this offseason and came into his second training camp ready to compete.
"I'm just coming out there every day trying to put my best foot forward," Oruwariye said Thursday. "Not worried about anything. Nothing is set in stone at all. We're in Day 3 of camp."
The Lions are just 25 days from their regular-season opener against Chicago, which is not a lot of time. It's expected that Okudah will see his first-team reps increase as we move farther into camp, and he will probably start on the outside Week 1.
But Oruwariye showed last season he can make plays in this league, and he's eager to show he can continue to do so in a bigger role in his second season.