Cornerback Teez Tabor knows this is a big offseason for him in his third year in the league. The former second-round pick out of Florida hasn’t made the kind of impact in his first two seasons Lions general manager Bob Quinn had hoped when drafting the cornerback No. 53 overall in 2017.
Tabor played in 28 percent of Detroit’s defensive snaps as a rookie and 37.7 percent last year.
“Listen, I still have faith in him,” Quinn said of Tabor earlier this offseason. “He obviously hasn’t played as much as I would’ve hoped. But I think we’re not giving up on him.
“He’s a guy that we’re counting on to get better. Teez was pretty young when we drafted him. Some guys take a huge step between year one and year two, I’m hoping Teez takes a big step from year two to year three.”
That’s obviously the goal for Tabor, who approached this offseason a little different than he has the previous two. He identified that he had to be more coachable and take more accountability on his end.
“I really just wanted to sit back and reflect on (last) season and see exactly what I needed to do to get better,” Tabor said after Thursday’s OTA practice. “I sat down and looked at a few things, see where I could’ve got better, see some things I did do well.
“I just sat down the first few weeks (of the offseason) and just reviewed and watched and came up with a plan, got with my trainer, and we just attacked it six days a week, sometimes five days a week, for eight/nine weeks until I came back up here.”
That took place in South Florida in a newly opened training facility owned by former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Tabor even Tweeted out a picture of himself going toe-to-toe with former All-Pro wide receiver Chad Johnson during one particular session in early March.
Tabor made some strides at the end of last year when given some extended playing time, but he knows his game has to take a significant leap forward if he’s going to carve out a role in a cornerback room that’s grown more crowded with some additions the team made in free agency and the draft this offseason.
Tabor’s below average speed for the position was a big storyline coming out of the 2017 draft, but the Lions liked his length and instincts, and thought they’d translate well to the NFL. So far, the lack of speed has been more of the story with Tabor than the length and instincts part of his game.
The Lions and Tabor are hoping the gap closes between the two this year.
One good thing Tabor has going for him this spring is he’s getting a lot of reps on the outside in place of Darius Slay, who hasn’t participated up to this point in the voluntary practices. Those reps are invaluable at this point, and Tabor’s made a few plays in the two OTA practices open to the media so far.
This is likely to be a defining offseason and training camp for Tabor.
“We have to be accountable for our actions,” he said. “Coach Matty P (Matt Patricia) is trying to bring this higher standard to the Lions. Everyone has to be accountable to that standard that he’s talking about.”