Dan Campbell Praises Lions Defender’s Response to Benching

Amani Oruwariye

Getty Amani Oruwariye fights for a tackle in 2022 vs. Seattle.

Not much has gone right for the Detroit Lions this season on defense, and no player embodies that frustration more than Amani Oruwariye.

The cornerback, who was once thought to be a major puzzle piece for the Lions, was sat down in Week 5 due to poor play and struggles as part of Detroit’s sweeping changes on defense.

No matter what happened in the past, though, Dan Campbell is clearly about moving forward for the Lions. As he said when meeting with the media on Monday, October 17, Oruwariye is continuing to put in the work and had a solid bye week of practice

“Every player is a little bit different at any given time and there’s always these circumstances that sometime you have control over, sometimes maybe not. But look, Amani’s a pro and he had two good days (of practice) back-to-back last week. Came out to work and so I anticipate him coming out Wednesday ready to roll. And he’s competitor,” Campbell said.

Whether that competition leads him back on the field as a starter is anyone’s guess, but a dinged-up Lions backfield could certainly use him turning things around in a big way.

At the very least, this shows the Lions and their staff has faith in what Oruwariye could do on the field if he gets his edge back. Campbell showing this confidence publicly could be important to get Oruwariye going again.

Oruwariye’s Benching Due to Poor Play

The Lions had lots of problems on defense heading into Week 5, and one of the biggest new wrinkles to come from that week was sitting Oruwariye down.

Previously, Oruwariye was penciled in as a top starter for Detroit given the work he did last season when he snagged six interceptions. Many assumed he was on his way to an impactful career in Detroit and a contract extension. Instead, penalties and problems have dominated the talk about Oruwariye for the first half of the season.

Now, though, many have suggested dealing him away for other struggling players. Such a move might be interesting, but given where Detroit’s weaknesses lie, it could be counterproductive to give up on a player like Oruwariye even as he has struggled.

No matter what’s happened, Campbell’s vote of confidence comes at an interesting time, and it will be important to watch and see if Oruwariye remains a healthy scratch for the team in Week 7 or if he plays any role at all.

Campbell Hypes Jerry Jacobs’ Role for Defense

Another return that could mean the world to a maligned Lions defense is that of cornerback Jerry Jacobs. Recovering from a devastating knee injury late last year, Jacobs has been grinding and looks to be set to make his return soon.

That would be a long time coming for the Detroit defense, who’s needed the passion and playmaking that Jacobs can bring to the field. That’s just what Campbell sees as the reality for the Lions, as well.

As the coach said, the team is going to continue to see where Jacobs is at, but no matter what he does, if he can play at all, he will bring the team something special on the field because of effort.

“We all feel like he’s got some flexibility and the coverage, the only thing is as he continues to progress physically, he gets his legs back under him. He’s doing a good job. He’s all-in, all-out. Just making sure that that as he continues to progress that we put him in a position where he can have success. It’s just, he wasn’t able to go through practice in camp and run those (drills). So I think the first thing you’d be thinking is outside where he would be competing,” he said.

The effort is one thing Campbell knows he doesn’t have to question about Jacobs at all no matter what he does.

“The good news about Jerry is when he’s physically ready, you know you can take it into the game because he’s going to help you on special teams immediately. Now you got him to the game and and now it’s, you sprinkling man outside or maybe we do feel good at nickel. But he brings value to the roster. The minimum? Just to have him game day because he does so many things,” he said.

How ever the Lions get Jacobs involved, he could be huge in terms of helping a struggling backfield bounce back. Combined with some improved play from Oruwariye, the Lions could find a turnaround based on what happens on the back end alone.

At the very least, the coach is saying the right things to build his players back up at a critical time.

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