Lions Like What They See In Wade, Spievey

Considered by many analysts the team's weakest link, Detroit's cornerback position is showing signs of life. Quotes and more from coach Jim Schwartz as he discusses the team's two hot cornerbacks ...

Considered by many analysts the team's weakest link, Detroit's cornerback position is showing signs of life.

The team littered the defensive backfield with several names during the off-season, and two in particular have made their presence felt.

On Thursday, second-round pick Amari Spievey, at worst considered a special teams asset by draft pundits back in April, snagged two interceptions from quarterback Drew Stanton. One of the picks was in the end zone, another during a 7-on-7 drill.

In the latter, the play called for man-to-man coverage, a challenge issued by coach Jim Schwartz to Spievey specifically. The rookie and Iowa product responded, turning his body in stride to come down with the underthrown pass -- a play that impressed the coaching staff.

"Amari did a really good job coming back to make the play," said Schwartz.

But while Spievey builds his reputation, veteran Jonathan Wade has all but locked down at least one of the two available corner spots.

A four-year player, Wade has been impressive during his duels with receivers Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, demonstrating speed, agility, awareness, but perhaps most important, a solid presence in the backfield.

Last season, the Lions gave up a league-high 35 passing touchdowns, registered just nine interceptions, allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete nearly 70 percent of their throws, all culminating in barely fathomable opponent QB rating of 107.

Essentially, they were a quarterback's dream opponent. And most of the blame fell squarely on the shoulders of the secondary.

The problems led the team to dump nearly its entire stable of cornerbacks, bringing aboard seven new names for the position alone. Signed as a free-agent, Wade was a familiar name in NFL circles, but namely for his inability to get onto the field in St. Louis in spite of his third-round pick status.

Thus far in Detroit, the fresh start seems to be paying off.

"He's probably been our most consistent corner," said Schwartz. "He does a great job with hands, does a great job with feet, and plays the ball well down the field. "He's a young vet, he's had some success, and had some rough spots early in his career, but he's been consistent in this stuff and he needs to keep building on that."

The Lions have flirted with playing Wade at the nickel position, and though he can handle it, it's more likely that he'll be penciled in at a starting cornerback slot once training camp begins in late July.

In a position that demands a short memory, Wade has made the most of his new opportunity.

"We don't hold his past against him," said Schwartz. "It's a clean slate. He hasn't carried any baggage."


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