BEREA—Don’t look now but Pierre Desir is coming on fast.
The second-year cornerback has played with the first team defense on back-to-back practice days—not Justin Gilbert.
On Sunday, Desir stepped in while Tramon Williams was given a veteran day of rest. On Tuesday, Joe Haden was given the day off and Desir once again stepped in with the starters.
“The coaches put their faith in me when the guys needs a rest,” Desir said after Tuesday’s practice. “And I’m just blessed that they believe in me and have confidence me to go out and play.”
Desir was drafted out of Lindenwood College in the fourth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The plan was to redshirt him as a rookie, but injuries forced him into action. Desir ended up playing in the final five games, including one start against the Panthers. He had seven tackles and two passes broken up starting for Joe Haden in that game.
Donte Whitner is impressed with Desir.
"He's doing what he's supposed to do,” Whitner said. “He's a guy that's been here everyday in the off season working as hard as he possibly can, he's putting in extra time in the film room. He's a guy that doesn't really say too much, but you can always see him working hard. Last year he started pretty slow, it was almost like a red-shirt year for him until late in the season when he had to go in there when we had some injuries.
“He played pretty well against Carolina when he had to start,” he said. “He's just getting better and better everyday. Mistakes that he makes on Monday, he doesn't make the same mistake on Tuesday or Wednesday. If he continues to get better and better I think we're going to have another really, really good corner on our hands."
Desir (6-2, 206) said he is convinced he can play in the NFL.
“I don’t have any doubts about my ability to play in the NFL,” he said. “I learn things every day, but am totally confident I can play in the NFL.”
Desir said he spent a lot of the off-season looking at film and preparing to make another step in year two.
“There’s a lot of little things that I’ve had to learn and the coaches pushed me to get better,” Desir said. “I just listened to what the coaches told me and went out and had fun.”
“The game has slowed down for me and I’m just going out and playing.”
On Sunday, secondary coach Jeff Hafley was asked why Desir was playing ahead of Gilbert.
“Why was Pierre out there first today? Hafley said. “Because he earned it. That is how we are going to be in the room. Whoever earns it is going to be who goes out.”
Gilbert agreed that Desir is playing well.
“He’s definitely earned to be out there getting those reps,” Gilbert said. “He’s worked his tail off.”
Gilbert feels he’s made strides as well and is working on proving he can be consistent.
“I just have to keep working hard daily and prove that I really want to be a part of this team and be able to make plays,” Gilbert said. “Consistency is the big thing, to make plays on a consistent basis.”
Gilbert said he’s confident that will happen.
“It’s just a matter of time.”
Gilbert, last year’s number one pick, said he’s not willing to concede the starting job to Williams or Desir. When asked if he still thinks he’ll be the opening day starter.
“We’ll see what happens.”