Significant Defensive Spot Called ‘up for Grabs’ in Lions Camp

Amani Oruwariye

Getty Amani Oruwariye converges for a tackle on a Washington player.

The Detroit Lions have some big changes to make before the 2021 season and plenty of issues to sort out before they get started on another year on the field.

Leading into the end of summer, thoughts are beginning to turn to some of the best battles on the field during Lions training camp which will come up soon. Naturally, there are plenty of spots that will have the spotlight shining brightly on them, and no shortage of battles to come in order to determine a winner at the spots.

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Recently, Bleacher Report writer Maurice Moton took a closer look at making some predictions about spots that could be up for grabs in camps across the league, and for the Lions, he singled out cornerback. According to Moton, at least one spot will be secured, but there will be a battle to see who starts opposite Jeff Okudah.

He wrote:

“Even though the Detroit Lions brought in a new regime, Jeff Okudah, last year’s No. 3 overall pick, should be a lock to start on the boundary because of his draft pedigree. On the opposite side, the team will have a choice of three long cornerbacks, all listed 6’2″ or taller on the team’s official website. One of them will replace Desmond Trufant, whom the club cut this offseason.

The Lions signed Dunbar, who has the most experience within the group of contenders (31 starts), but he’s battled injuries throughout his career. The seventh-year veteran has missed at least five games in four of his campaigns. In 2020, he sat out 10 contests because of a knee issue that required surgery.

Last year, in his second term, Oruwariye showed signs of promise. Through 16 games (15 starts), he recorded seven pass breakups, an interception and allowed a 59.3 percent catch rate in coverage. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn may like what he sees in the third-year pro’s development.

Melifonwu has the athletic profile to garner some attention at camp. He’s a 6’3″, 210-pound cover man from Syracuse. He should be able to compete with NFL talent. Because of his size and his willingness to tackle, the Lions could play him at an unsettled safety position.

Nonetheless, his physical tools give him a chance to claim the perimeter position in the secondary. He recorded 19 pass breakups and three interceptions through three collegiate terms.”

The Lions figure to get some better play out of Okudah, and if someone can step up and make their reps count next to him, the team could be in excellent shape moving forward. A good player to remember in that vein is Amani Oruwariye, who has quietly played some great football the last few seasons in transitioning to the league. Additionally, the Lions could have players like Quinton Dunbar and Ifeatu Melifonwu step up after joining the roster.

All of this shapes up to create one good battle before the start of the season.

Lions Remaking Cornerback Spot This Offseason

From start to finish this offseason, helping to fix the backfield was a huge focus of the team and the front office. For a while, it was figured that Detroit could use a safety but could also look to add a cornerback to the mix as well to help out their young players in finding a footing. With the veteran depth they added, that’s just what the team looks to have done.

With young players like Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye at cornerback as well as Corn Elder and Quinton Dunbar, the depth has been reset in a decent way heading into the season. Young rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu will help as well, and the team could be boosted if they see players like Mike Ford, Amani Oruwariye and others step up from on their roster.

2021 Lions Training Camp Primer

This year during camp, it will be a very important few weeks of work for the Lions, who will once again be setting out on getting themselves started on the right foot for a new year with a new staff. Obviously, watching to see how new quarterback Jared Goff looks will be a big goal for the fans, as well as seeing how the team works with a new defense. Getting a glimpse of Campbell’s star-studded staff will be fascinating as well, with names such as Mark Brunell, Antwaan Randle-El, Aaron Glenn, Duce Staley and others coming to town to coach in a supporting role. Hearing how the players adjust to their new staff will be interesting, as well as what tone they set for the preseason and regular season respectively.

It’s been a positive offseason for the Lions thus far, and they will look to keep the momentum going with some quality camp battles. Watching cornerback closely might need to be on the menu for fans.

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