Holt, Kennedy Forging a Bond

Three weeks into their new working relationship, new Lions starting safeties Terrence Holt and Kenoy Kennedy say they're getting their timing down, starting to understand each others strengths and abilities and most importantly learning to trust each other. Comments inside with Kennedy, Holt, head coach Steve Mariucci and more.

ALLEN PARK - Three weeks into their new working relationship, new Lions starting safeties Terrence Holt and Kenoy Kennedy say they're getting their timing down, starting to understand each others strengths and abilities and most importantly learning to trust each other.

"One thing I learned from my time in Denver," said Kennedy at Detroit's recent minicamp, "is that communication is very important. It is important to know how a guy likes to play. I'm beginning to get that now from working with [Terrence] Holt."

It was evident that Holt and Kennedy were putting an emphasis on just that during the camp sessions. The two could be seen pointing out receivers and assignments in a very animated fashion to each other.

The move to bring in two new starters marks a changing of the guard at the position for the Lions organization.

It became readily apparent last season that Detroit's starting safety tandem of Brock Marion and Bracy Walker was overmatched.

While the two understood their roles and assignments well, they no longer possessed the speed they had in their younger days, which was particularly apparent for the former Pro Bowler Marion.

Walker will be the backup at both positions this fall while Marion is no longer with the team and currently out of the NFL.

"We had Bracy Walker start every game last year plus be one of our captains in the special teams area - he seldom came off the field," said Mariucci in explaining Walker's value to the team as a special teamer and as a backup.

Detroit made upgrading the safety position their number one off-season priority and signed Kennedy early during the free agency signing period.

They took a different approach to the strong safety position. Holt, a former fifth-round pick, was groomed from within and began taking over the reigns at the end of the 2004 season.

Both Lions president Matt Millen and head coach Steve Mariucci said they felt comfortable with Holt as their starting free safety at Detroit's

"It was a learning process for me," said Holt of spending the first two years mostly watching from the sidelines. "I had to learn to be patient and then, when I did get on the field, I had to make the most of the time, whether it was in special teams or playing the nickle or dime packages as a corner."

Holt believes the experience he got while playing in a variety of roles has prepared him well for what he will face this season as a starter.

"Getting to know Kenoy [Kennedy] has been a lot of fun. I'm beginning to understand how he likes to play his position and where he's going to be in certain situations. He understands how I like the play, so I can be comfortable when he makes the [defensive play] calls," said Holt.

Detroit is hoping the infusion of size, speed and talent will help shore a pourous secondary that gave up 29 touchdown passes (rank 22nd in the NFL) and 3,736 total passing yards (rank 21st in the NFL).

Kennedy, 6-foot-1, 215-pounds, heading into his seventh season from Arkansas, has been a productive and hard-hitting safety since his second year in the league after not getting much playing time as a rookie. He was forced to switch from his natural free safety position when the Broncos acquired John Lynch from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.

Still, he had statisically his best season recording 82 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception and while he will likely be termed the free safety in Detroit's offense, the Lions scheme makes both safety positions virtually interchangable.

"Adding Kenoy Kennedy was a great get in the off-season," said Lions coach Steve Mariucci. "He was guy that has been starting for Denver for four years. He's a hitter; he's a force and a veteran."

Holt made an impact despite playing mostly in special teams situations for Detroit. He snared three interceptions and defended six passes as a rookie.

He is not the speediest safety in the league (4.55-40 time) but still manages to use his head to anticipate well and get to the play.

"He's got a nose for the ball, he's got some range, some anticipation," said Mariucci about Holt.

Watching them work together in coverage in the Lions minicamp sessions a week ago gave observers a first look at how the Lions secondary will fare against some of the speedier receiving tandems in the league.

"I don't think it's going to be any different," said Lions corner Dre' Bly. "If anything, we're going to be better. We just need to stay healthy and do the things we're capable of doing and should be [in the race for the division title]."

While that was a tip of the cap to the professionalism of both Marion and Walker, Detroit hopes that the production by their new tandem gives them a solid secondary to go with an ever-improving defensive unit under coordinator Dick Jauron.

That would go a long way towards helping the team to contend for a division title this fall, something that is long overdue.

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