The Detroit Lions pre-season opener against the Cleveland Browns is right around the corner, and while many people are excited to see the Lions new offense in action, many fans are also excited to see Lions defense in action, especially their secondary that ranked 23rd against the pass last year and still must face quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice a year along with Jay Cutler.
Well after training camp on Tuesday, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin spoke to the press about the defense and much to the happiness of Lions fans, he had plenty of great things to say, starting with the fact that the corner-backs have come a long way and that he feels the Lions have two high character veterans at safety in Glover Quin and two high-character veterans
“When I look at the group, they’ve come a long way.” Coach Austin on the corner-back situation. “They’re really working hard. I think the key to it is that they’ve really got to learn how to play together, play with the safeties (and) figure out what they’re doing coverage-wise. I like the way they compete, they study hard and do everything that you want a young secondary to do. So now it comes down to getting game reps and seeing how we can improve.”
“We have two high-character veterans (Quin and Ihedigbo) and so they know, for us to play well, they have to play well. They have to be communicating and they have to be problem-solvers in the back. They’ve done that with the young guys and it helps. What that’ll do is cut down on big plays, cut down break out runs, all those different things, getting lined up wrong, not getting the call. That’s what they’re working really well at right now.”
I don’t know about you but I am glad to hear that Quin is stepping in and being that veteran leader to the Lions secondary. Right before training camp, I actually spoke to Quin and one of the things, we talked about was his role as leader along with the fact that the Lions defense has a good blend of veterans and youth. Apparently coach Austin feels the same way, because he briefly spoke about the defense’s good blend of veterans and youth to the press on Tuesday.
“Yes, I do think we have a nice blend, because our older guys they are really good professionals.” Coach Austin replied. “So, as a young person you may come in and think you know how this league works, but you have to have the right veteran leadership to help you get going.”
Keep in mind that the Lions secondary isn’t the only area receiving some praise during training camp, coach Austin also spoke very highly of the Lions defense as whole, saying that he likes the defense’s competitive spirit.
“I really like the group’s competitive spirit.” Coach Austin said. “When we get out there and have a drill against the offense, they don’t like to lose and that’s something (that) a lot of times you can find throughout the group. Even when we’ve gone six days in a row, whatever it is, they’ve done a great job in terms of really competing, working to get better, helping each other out and that’s really a great sign, I think.”
The competitive spirit of the Lions isn’t the only thing that is sticking out in camp, head coach Jim Caldwell continues to speaks very highly of the defense’s depth this season, especially up front.
“Potentially, I think we have a real good situation up front.” Coach Caldwell speaking on the depth of the Lions. “You know this game, one day you’re in great shape in terms of depth, the next day you’re having some difficulties. At this point we have some guys that we like what they’re doing out there on the field. We can rotate guys in and out. We don’t have to have guys in there for an inordinate length of time because we do have guys that are in a backup role that can play, we are excited about that.”
For those, who have been worried about Suh’s production, don’t be. Although the Lions postponed contract negotiations with Suh until after season, Suh is still coming into camp and performing at high level, showing why he is an extreme value to this Lions team.
“Outstanding. He’s outstanding.” Coach Austin said on Suh’s progression and the value he brings to the team. “I remember being in the league, all you can think of is a great player. When you get here, you have a chance to work with him, you see why he’s a great player. He works his tail off, he’s a true professional in every sense of the word and every time he comes out here to practice he practices like he’s supposed to.”
Another bright spot of training camp, has been former BYU rookie linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who the Lions drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
“He shows us the pass rushing when he’s got an opportunity to do it.” Coach Austin on Kyle Van Noy. “He’s very smart, understands in terms of the run fits and getting in the pass coverage. Again, it’s just going to be live game reps and seeing how far we can bring him.”
If you’re wondering how the Lions are preparing for Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, coach Caldwell says they aren’t preparing for him, they are focusing on getting themselves ready and focusing on their growth as a team.
“We’re not. We’re preparing for ourselves right now.” Coach Caldwell speaking on how he’s preparing for Browns Johnny Manziel. “We’re getting ourselves ready and are focusing in on us. It’s our offense against our defense at this point.”
I guess we will see how prepared and focused the Lions’ defense is on Saturday night, when they face-off against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
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