When it comes to the cornerback position in Detroit, a lot of the attention is on second-year CB Jeff Okudah, and rightfully so, as the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL Draft a year ago looks to have a bounce-back season after an up-and-down rookie campaign plagued by injury.
With a lot of eyes fixed on Okudah, third-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye seems to be flying a bit under the radar.
But Oruwariye said Monday after practice he certainly doesn't see himself as an under-the-radar player. He has a point. We shouldn't forget that it was Oruwariye who was arguably Detroit's most consistent and productive cornerback a season ago. He played over 1,000 snaps with nearly 600 of those (589) coming in pass coverage. Opponents completed just 55 percent of their passes throwing his way, and he allowed only three touchdown receptions (two in one game vs. Green Bay) all season in 16 contests, per Pro Football Focus statistics.
"We just sharpen each other," Oruwariye said of Okudah. "Iron sharpens iron. (Jeff) looks great out there. We're just trying to make each other better every single day, so it can translate to the game."
Oruwariye said Okudah looks like a completely different player both physically and mentally from a year ago, and he's excited for what that could mean for the secondary and the defense as a whole.
Oruwariye is entering his third season, and has looked pretty good himself throughout the start of camp. He's been getting nearly all of the first-team reps opposite Okudah at the other outside cornerback spot. He said film study and taking the next step with his preparation was a big focus for him this offseason.
"I know (Jeff) Okudah gets a lot of attention for where he was drafted and the talent level and all those things and he is improving, but Amani is just quietly getting better over there and doing his job," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Monday.
"He's a football junkie. He's learning, he's growing, you can see his confidence. He understands his own ability and what he can do, what he's got to be careful doing, what he can get away with. But he's growing too. Trust me. I'm excited to see what he looks like now that we're going into pads too."
The pads are coming on for Tuesday's practice in Allen Park, and at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Oruwariye is at his best when he can use his size and physicality on the man across from him.
If Okudah takes the big leap most expect him to take in his second season, and Oruwariye improves on a solid second season from a year ago, having two big, physical cornerbacks that can match up and play well on the outside will be huge for the Lions' defense.