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Rakestraw's versatility already on display in first week with Lions

After the Lions drafted cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. in the second round with the No. 61 overall pick, they mentioned his toughness and versatility to play both outside and in the slot as reasons why he was such a good fit for Detroit's defense.

We saw that versatility the first day of rookie minicamp last week as Rakestraw played both outside and in the slot in his limited reps.

"That's how I played my freshman year (at Missouri) as a starter, I started nickel and then I started at (outside) corner, so to me that's just my home," Rakestraw said of playing more inside last weekend.

"I mean, I started first day there so that's probably big picture probably maybe, but it don't matter where I play. I just want to play and be a part."

The Lions limited Rakestraw's reps in the open practice last Friday. He underwent core muscle surgery at the end of his college season and though he told reporters after practice he's 100 percent, the Lions have a plan in place to keep him that way early on.

"That's just the plan they already had set for me," Rakestraw said. "I was trying to go, but they was like, 'Nah, you trying to exceed your reps we already had for you.' But what I got to do a great job of is sticking to the plan. They've been here, they've got a ton of experience and just keep it like that."

Cross-training both in the nickel and on the outside is the best way for Rakestraw to see the field early in a very competitive Detroit secondary.

The Lions drafted cornerback Terrion Arnold (No. 24 overall) and Rakestraw (No. 61) with their first two picks. They traded for veteran Carlton Davis III and signed Amik Robertson in free agency this offseason. They also re-signed Emmanuel Moseley, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL, and Kindle Vildor, who finished the year as a starter in Detroit. Second-year cornerback Brian Branch returns as the starter at nickel and Robertson has experience inside as well.

View photos from Day 1 of Detroit Lions rookie minicamp on Friday, May 10, 2024 in Allen Park, Mich.

For the first time in the Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell era the Lions have a really good mix of veteran and young talent at cornerback that's expected to be one of the better competitions for starting jobs, playing roles and roster spots come training camp. The more a player like Rakestraw can do, the better his chances of finding a role or being an injury replacement.

"I love the way he plays the game," Lions assistant general manager Ray Agnew said of Rakestraw before last week's rookie minicamp. "The guy is competitive. He believes in himself. He loves to challenge receivers. I love the way he plays the game. He's physical."

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