People in Allen Park were extremely impressed with Teez Tabor's intelligence and football IQ when he arrived last season as a rookie.
He saw spot duty early on last season behind veteran players like Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson and DJ Hayden, but showed to be a quick study, and earned more playing time the second half of the season.
Tabor enters this season in the mix of players – along with DeShawn Shead and Lawson – hoping to earn the starting outside cornerback spot opposite Slay.
The Lions are hopeful Tabor will have a long and productive playing career after selecting him in the second round of last year's draft. Tabor is expecting the same thing, but while talking to reporters after Sunday's practice, he did elude to the fact that one day after he's done playing, he'd like to be a head football coach.
"I want to be around the game of football," Tabor said. "I've just learned from a lot of people. I'm watching how coach (Matt Patricia) runs his meetings. How he interacts with his players. How he cares about his players. He definitely cares about his players. Just everything. I'm just watching and learning so one day (I can be a head coach)."
Tabor talked about a little something he loved about each of the most recent head coaches he's had that he'd like to implement into his potential coaching style someday:
Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions, 2017: "How he ran his meetings. It wasn't always about football. It was about us becoming better men. He would give us stories from ancient times to two days ago and you actually learned. He was real cool in his team meetings."
Jim McElwain, University of Florida, 2015-16: "Coach (McElwain) had one team rule and it was do what's right. He gave me this band right here (on Tabor's right wrist) that says choices. Everybody got their freedom of choice, but not their freedom of consequence."
Will Muschamp, University of Florida, 2014: "I love his energy. His energy is by far the best. His schemes on defense were pretty good."
Tabor was then asked about Patricia.
"Everywhere I've been I've kind of taken things from a lot of people," he said. "If I could be like one guy I would want to be like him just because he's not like, 'assistant coaches do the job.' No, he demands what he wants and I feel like all great coaches have that quality, they're going to demand greatness out of their players. They're going to demand everything that they want and they're going to get it."
While the focus right now is certainly on Tabor's playing career and becoming as good a cornerback as he possibly can for this Lions football team, Patricia says Tabor does possess some qualities that could one day help him in his efforts to become a coach after his playing days are over.
"We had that conversation," Patricia said. "He works extremely hard, loves the game, studies the game. When you make that transition from playing to coaching, the view of the game broadens, the concepts of what you're doing expands, so one of the things that we teach in a conceptual manner, I think that will benefit him a lot and I think he's really trying to understand how all the pieces fit together, what does my job affect the next guy across from me or how does it affect the other side of the ball, and really the full conceptual understanding of the game which he really loves, he dives into that stuff, and he wants to learn."
Tabor seems to be a bit of a football junkie.
"I will go off on my tangents in the meeting room about west coast offense and where it originated, but he loves that stuff and if you have that sort of passion about the history of the game and where it came from, it can help you be a better coach," Patricia said of Tabor.
"He knows how to run drills, he understands the stuff on the field, and he's going to get more experience with that the more he plays, so just being able to put all of it together from a coaching standpoint will be great for him."
Another thing Tabor says he loves about playing under Patricia is the energy Patricia brings to the field and the meeting room.
"When you love something and have a passion for something, and you see somebody else with that same passion, it's like, 'I love you,'" he said. "It just raises your passion and energy for that same thing, even when you don't want to do it."
As a rookie, Tabor played in 10 games and made one start. The Lions took their time in developing him early on, but he earned his way into the cornerback rotation, and by the end of the year was playing significant reps. He finished with 14 tackles.
Tabor has terrific length (6-0, 201) and a good feel for the game. He's hoping those traits win him the starting job, or at the very least a key role in the revamped defense.
"It's great competition," he said of the cornerback room. "We have a lot of great DBs in our room. Slay, (Jamal) Agnew, Quandre (Diggs), Nevo, Shead. So it's great competition and that only makes the team better, that only makes our room better."