Cook: Training Camp Battles - Secondary

While the secondary will be revamped at the cornerback position, it isn't without competition -- where columnist James Cook believes the heart of Detroit's defensive talent resides. Much more inside in the second part of Cook's Detroit Lions Training Camp Battles series. [Lions safety Greg Blue, left]

2) Defensive Secondary (Part One: Wide Receivers)

This won't be much of a battle, just some jostling.

Leigh Bodden and Brian Kelly are pretty much entrenched at cornerback. Or as entrenched as newcomers can be.

At safety, it looks like it will be newcomer Dwight Smith and one of the young guys opposite him -- either Gerald Alexander or returning second-year man and former second-round pick Keith Bullocks. Both young guys have shown that they belong in the NFL and the Lions' future at safety looks great.

And, finally, the secondary has depth. There's already an extra safety, and that isn't including heat-seeking missile Greg Blue, who plays like a linebacker at safety.

You have Travis Fisher at nickel and then Keith Smith and Stanley Wilson. Plus, possibly Ramzee Robinson and maybe even Kalvin Pearson, if he isn't in jail.

The Lions didn't spend a draft pick on a player in the secondary (counting Caleb Campbell as a LB) for the first time since 2001.

Lions 2008 Camp Secondary
Starters: Bodden, Kelly, D. Smith, Alexander/Bullocks
Nickelback: Fisher
Top backups: Alexander/Bullocks, K. Smith, Wilson
Reserves/ST: Pearson, Blue
Longshots: Robinson, Lemarcus Hicks

The players within the defensive backfield make it a formidable secondary, aside from Pearson's legal woes. If he stays fairly clean, he's the fourth safety and adds a special team's presence and is a young guy who can also play safety if needed. In not, the door is wide open for Blue to step into that same position.

Blue could make the team anyway if the Lions decide to keep an extra special teams body around, which they should, given their recent lack of success in that department. All of their top three safeties can play corner in a pinch, which may squeeze out the need to keep Robinson as a sixth CB.

It's not unusual to keep 10 DBs, so that last spot could be Blue, even if Pearson manages to stay out of stripes.

Personally, I like what Blue did last year in the time he was given. He gave the Lions a big-time hitter in the secondary -- the kind Kenoy Kennedy was supposed to be. At worst, he'll add to the special teams and be someone you can bring in on short yardage for some extra toughness up close to the line.

Next Up: Quarterback


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