Allen Park, Mich. (AP) — Under the previous head coach and front office, Detroit drafted Will Harris to play safety in 2019.
Now, the Lions are giving him the chance to become a much-needed cornerback in coach Dan Campbell’s second season.
Harris’ move to cornerback began in the middle of last season, when injuries in the position forced Lions coaches to adjust on the fly.
Despite Harris being the team’s opening security, the coaches opted to transfer him to the cornerback in week 12. Harris was ready for whatever he threw at her.
“Whatever they want me to do is go out and do what I’m going to do,” Harris said.
First, he played in nickel position when starter AJ Parker went down. He moved to the outside corner position a few weeks later after Jerry Jacobs tore his ACL.
“Last season will be a huge step forward for us,” said cornerback Amani Oruvariye. “It’s hard to go unnoticed. He’s just Mr. Consistent, Mr. Know it all. He’s played in every position on defense (secondary), so he’s just out there and making sure he gets his craft into the corner. be able to correct it.”
In an effort to narrow their focus, the Lions are making Harris a full-time outside corner this year, and they’re giving him a shot at the starting job opposite Orurwariye.
“Because he’s big, he’s strong, he’s physical, he can run, he’s got a chance,” Campbell said. “And you tell him to get out there and compete, and raise a guy up there and play technique, he’s great. And so, sometimes when you take a little bit off a guy’s plate, Man, they can really grow.”
Harris is cross training between a cornerback and a safety at Boston College to go back to his college career.
However, this is his first extended look at the cornerback. The competitive nature of the position and the ability to go face-to-face with a receiver is something that is attractive to a fourth-year defensive back.
“Being there on the island, man, there’s nothing like it,” Harris said. “There’s nothing like it. Just the adrenaline you get. I don’t know, I’m a competitor. So I get out there excited.”
However, Harris will have significant competition for the starting job. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft, who tore his Achilles last September, is spending time with Harris in the first-team defense at the start of training camp. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn contacted both Okudah and Harris this off-season to let them know it would be an open competition.
The Lions are encouraged from the opening game at Harris’s camp.
“He is more comfortable now because he has been in that position since the OTA,” Glenn said. “He deserves it, he deserves a chance to win this job and we’re going to give both of those guys a chance and they know it.”
Even if Harris doesn’t end up winning the job over Okuda, Detroit values the 26-year-old’s ability to fill multiple roles on the team if he suffers more injuries this season.
“He’s a jack of all trades,” Campbell said. “Now he can play in many places at the top of the special teams when he goes into the game. It’s an asset.”
Notes: Lions tight end Devin Funches returned to practice on Monday, but was sidelined during team practice as he was working through a groin injury. … Lions first-round rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson impressed teammates with his rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” at a team meeting last week. “Butter,” said offensive tackle Penny Sewell. “He scratched a little at the beginning, but I get it. Tremors. But he killed. That guy killed it.”
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