Rookie Bill Bentley won’t dress tonight against the San Francisco 49ers because of the concussion he suffered in last week’s win over the St. Louis Rams.
Chris Houston is probably out, too, still recovering the high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 3 of the preseason.
That leaves the Lions with Jacob Lacey, Drayton Florence, Kevin Barnes and Jonte Green at corner, an unheralded quartet that defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham insists he’s completely comfortable with.
Florence is the most veteran of the group, but he’s been with the Lions just two weeks after getting released by the Denver Broncos. Barnes has been in Detroit a few days longer, since the Lions acquired him in a trade with the Washington Redskins Aug. 27. Green was a sixth-round pick out of New Mexico State in April. And Lacey came aboard in March as the Lions’ biggest addition in a quiet off-season.
Cunningham said Lacey “played really well” against the Rams, when the Lions held Sam Bradford to just 198 yards passing.
“He had one kind of a leaky tackle but the guy came down,” Cunningham said. “I watched him personally and did a lot of tapes on him before we signed him and the week prior to the game he didn’t practice very well and I was concerned and I knew I was right. His confidence level wasn’t quite there. He wanted to prove to us what kind of player he was. He did and he practiced really well this week because of it.”
Green was pressed into duty in the fourth quarter after Bentley’s injuries and got beat on his first series for a 23-yard touchdown.
“On that touchdown pass, I felt bad,” Cunningham said. “I kind of put him in a situation and if I had to do it over again I might have changed the call on it but he fought the guy. He lost him at the line and then at the end there was a fight for the ball, and I thought he got it out. But what I did, I got after him a little bit and he sat on the bench, I went over to talk to him and he reacted the way a corner should.
“I mean, the look on his face and how he handled himself the rest of the game was outstanding. And that’s what a corner has to have. You have to have short memories and you can’t be a phony about it and he wasn’t. He’s practiced real well and he’s on his way up.”
Florence, in his 10th NFL season after stints with the San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills, is expected to start opposite Lacey today.
“I’m kind of proud of myself on that one, too, because one day I told him James Hasty went to Kansas City when he was (30), never been to a Pro Bowl, went to it (two times) after that,” Cunningham said.
“That brought a big smile on his face. He’s really helped the young guys. The biggest issue is the terminology. He has to translate a lot of things that he’s been through, but he caught on fast and the first week on a Tuesday he was in my office about 6:30 in the morning wanting the call sheet for that game and it was a little bit early, but we got it to him as fast as we could. So I’m glad he’s here, too.”
Contact Dave Birkett: 313-222-2037 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.
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