Tabor stands out in OTAS with first interception

There was a lot made of Teez Tabor's lack of timed speed in the 40-yard dash in the pre-draft process. His slow 40 time (4.6 seconds at the Combine) for a cornerback was part of the reason he slipped to the Lions in the second round of the draft.

So, it was inevitable that once Tabor got into uniform all eyes would be on him the first time he lined up across from Marvin Jones Jr. or any one of the other speedy Lions receivers to see how he'd match up when they went deep.

After dealing with a hamstring injury early in OTAs and being slowly worked into the first two open practices to the media, Tabor appeared to be a full participant in Tuesday's last open OTA practice.

And wouldn't you know, he found himself matched up on Jones during an 11-on-11 period with Jones having the homerun play on his mind.

Jones darted off the line of scrimmage on a go route, and Tabor stayed step-for-step with him. When quarterback Matthew Stafford launched the ball down the field in Jones' direction, Tabor positioned himself nicely between the ball and Jones, and came away with his first interception as a Detroit Lion.

"I've just been trying to get my hands on a couple balls, just trying as hard as I can," Tabor said of the play after practice. "Still some things I got to work on though, but that was a good play."

Tabor has been emphatic he plays faster than his 40 time would indicate, and that play Tuesday was a snap shot of it. Lions general manager Bob Quinn raved about Tabor's instincts and talked about how timed speed and playing speed were very different after studying his film and selecting him with the 53rd overall selection.

"I think very similar to what Bob (Quinn) alluded to, you have the game tape and then you have the timed speed and it didn't match up," Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said after Tuesday's practice, when asked about Tabor.

"So you go back and you just keep watching tape, and watching tape, and what you saw was a guy that didn't get run by, didn't get beat, handled a lot of guys that are playing in this league and so at that point you have to go with what you see on the tape.

"I mean, there's a lot of times you miss when you go with a guy that didn't perform on tape, but he runs really fast and he jumps really high and then you draft him and he doesn't do anything. I think this kid's a football player and that was the one thing we liked about him. He made plays, he got around the ball. He's got toughness and he's got a real savvy. He's a really smart, smart football player, smart kid and so I think that's going to help his development."

And what about that interception down the field Tuesday?

"I happened to be standing there, but he was successful because one, he was in position. Two, he's long and tall and three he's got really good ball skills," Austin said.

"He did a good job closing out the receiver and he located the ball, which is really important."

Tabor obviously has a long way to go in his development. This league isn't friendly to rookie cornerbacks, and I expect a lot of great competition to develop at cornerback in training camp.  

Tabor's being tested this spring by the likes of Jones and Golden Tate, and his ability to learn on the fly and still come up with some plays of his own is a good sign for the Lions heading into the mandatory minicamp next week and training camp at the end of July.    

"Man, he's good. Like, he's really good," Tabor said of Jones. "One of the guys who's really tested me since I've been here. Just going against him, one of the best. Fast, big, can run good routes. I had one good play against him but he had about 15 against me."

Tabor is trying to grasp the playbook and learn from his mistakes and if he keeps doing that he'll be able to play even faster come training camp.

The Lions are looking for playmakers on defense and they drafted Tabor with the hope he can be one of those players. On Tuesday, he showed for the first time he has that potential.

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