Goodman Off to Flying Start

Detroit Lions rookie corner Andre Goodman is showing flashes of brilliance. In the first day of training camp Goodman showed great speed, quickness and an ability to "break on the ball". Goodman batted away two balls in the afternoon session, raising hopes that he could crack the starting lineup. Still, there's a big difference between no-contact drills and hitting with the pads on.

(ALLEN PARK, MI)--It seemed like #39 was in on every ball thrown to the left side of the field at the Lions' afternoon practice. There he was jumping in front of receiver Eddie Drummond to knock away a ball. There he was again, running stride for stride with receiver Az-Zahir Hakim on a deep ball that went incomplete. There he was jumping a route attempting an interception. It seemed that Andre Goodman was making an impression on the coaches and the media.

But then again, that was the book on Andre Goodman coming out of South Carolina, "a solid diagnostician who rarely gets beat because of being out of position...shows fluid hip turn and quick feet coming out of his backpedal." Goodman showed all of that in day two of the Lions' rookie portion of their 2002 training camp.

"I came out here to compete, said Goodman, "I'm trying to push myself because I'm here and I'm trying to take advantage of it. I don't want to leave this game [thinking] I wish I could have done this or I should have done that. I want to give it all I can right now.

He is aware of the void in the Lions' secondary caused by the departure of former first-round selection Bryant Westbrook, and the injury to Terry Fair.

"This is a great opportunity," said Goodman, "I don't think I could have come into a better situation. They needed a cornerback. I heard they were supposed to take Quentin Jammer with the 3rd [overall] pick. I never knew that until I got here. The demand for a cornerback here is great. I'm stepping in and trying to do my part. I just want to fit in. I'll let them decide if my play is great enough to be out there on the field or not. If not, I'm going to contribute as much as I can."

At first glance, Goodman looks as if he will be able to contribute once he gets a clean bill of health. Goodman said that he tore a capsule in his shoulder and that is why the injury took so long to heal.

Goodman now says he has reached the stage where he is ready to put on the pads and give his shoulder a test. "I'm going to hit. I haven't hit anybody since the surgery, so I don't know what it's going to feel like, but I'm prepared to go out there and have contact. My doctor, who did the surgery released me to do everything. I think they're going to have me on day-by-day just to kinda, not rush into it. At the same time, we all know that I've got to get to a point. They're trying to get me to that point."

"I try to pride myself on being around the ball. At South Carolina that was our defense, 11 men to the ball. I want to be in position to make the play."

What if he is thrown into the fire as a starter, can he handle the pressure? "I'm looking forward to it. Anytime you [have a chance to] come in and start as a rookie, you've got to be excited about that. At the same time, a little nervous because you've never been out there before. The fact that somebody can see you on that level and thinks that you belong out there is a great compliment. At the same time I want to prove to them that I can do it."

Fine, but what happens and what will Goodman feel like when suddenly he's lined up against Minnesota's Randy Moss, Terry Glenn in Green Bay or Marcus Robinson in Chicago? "It's kind of [a combination of] nervousness and excitement at the same time. These are the guys you watch. Anytime you come in as a rookie and see a Randy Moss or a Terry Glenn you're going to be like "OK, I'm actually out here." So that's going to be the thought that's in your head, but once the ball is snapped you know you've got to compete. I'm going out there to compete and I'm not backing down."

Goodman has never backed down in his career. His willingness to mix it up in run support. Many felt the 5' 10" Goodman was on the way to becoming on of the top corners in the nation before a serious knee injury took away most of his 1998 redshirt freshman season. In 2001, Goodman suffered what was diagnosed as a shoulder contusion which kept him out of just one game, but required post-season surgery.

Detroit is hoping they'll catch lightning in a bottle, the way they did with Shaun Rogers last season. Rogers returned from an ankle injury that dropped him to the second round before recovering to post a all-pro type season as the Lions starting defensive left tackle.

LIONS NOTES: The Lions secondary may not be as bad as previously believed IF they can get a couple of breaks. If Goodman can continue to progress once he puts on the pads, he may get support from Lamar Campbell. Detroit is flirting with the idea of moving Campbell over to corner. If Terry Fair, the starter from 2001 can return, Detroit could then use newly acquired veteran Eric Davis and holdover Todd Lyght in reserve.

The question marks though are numerous. Does Davis have anything left in the tank? Can Fair get healthy? Can Goodman be effective once he puts the pads on? Will Campbell be able to make the adjustment from safety to corner? CBS Sportline ranks the Lions as 30th out of 32 teams in its NFL Power rankings.

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