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 Terrence Holt may start at either safety position next year 
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Post Terrence Holt may start at either safety position next year
#4 Storyline: Restocking The Secondary
By Which Means Will Lions Officials Upgrade Their Defensive Backfield?
By Jay Clemons
DetroitLions.com
February 24, 2005

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- In recent years, the Detroit Lions have successfully reeled in a pair of top-shelf cornerbacks during free agency (Dre' Bly and Fernando Bryant), while cultivating solid depth in this area, via the NFL draft (Chris Cash, Andre' Goodman, Keith Smith).

Through this steady progression, the Lions may possess the NFC's North's best fleet of cornerbacks in 2005.

This spring, team officials may invoke a similar blueprint for strengthening the safety positions. Upon execution of this plan, they may also be constructing the NFC's fastest, deepest and most versatile secondary.

As part of its revealing look into the team's top 10 storylines of the spring, Detroitlions.com will explore the No. 4 aspect: Restocking the secondary.

The Killer B's: Despite combining for 23 starts in 2004, Bly (a two-time Pro Bowler with Detroit) and Bryant (a marquee free-agent signee last year) started together in only seven games. This begs the question: Will the playmaking tandem take their respective games to another level in 2005 -- assuming they're healthy throughout the campaign?

In this passing age of the NFL, there can be no greater defensive foundation than a bookend pair of reliable, talented and versatile corners -- and Bly (33 tackles, four interceptions and 22 pass deflections) and Bryant (48 tackles and 13 pass deflections) are proving to be the Lions' long-term solution.

The Safeties: Providing viable, on-the-field leadership and a veteran's savvy for making timely plays, Brock Marion (signed through 2005) and Bracy Walker (an unrestricted free agent) brought stability to the Detroit secondary last season. They also mentored rangy playmaker Terrence Holt, who Lions head coach Steve Mariucci believes could possibly start at either safety spot next season.

Both Marion (112 tackles and eight pass deflections) and Walker (also a dynamic special teams contributor) started every game in 2004; but with each player turning 35 this year, the Lions will likely look to upgrade this area through the draft or free agency.

The Next Wave: Cornerbacks Cash, Goodman and Smith all have applicable experience within Dick Jauron's 4-3 defensive scheme. This familiarity with the system should greatly enhance the Lions' nickel packages in 2005. And if necessary, Detroit has admirable depth to absorb any sustained injuries. Drafted in 2002, Goodman and Cash are restricted free agents this spring.

The Free Agents: With the deadline since passed, NFL teams can no longer "franchise" players to counter free agency. (A club can designate one franchise player or one transition player in any given year.) The Lions can now pursue up to 15 high-quality, unrestricted candidates -- all of whom could make immediate contributions to their defensive backfield.

According to Scouts, Inc., the top free agents at safety (excluding any Lions) are: Miami's Sammy Knight, Arizona's Adrian Wilson, Denver's Kenoy Kennedy, Houston's Marlon McCree and St. Louis's Aeneas Williams. The heralded cornerbacks include: Baltimore's Gary Baxter, Tennessee's Andre Dyson, Washington's Fred Smoot and Cleveland's Anthony Henry.

The Newcomers: Detroit also has attractive options for replenishing the secondary in April's draft. According to various reports, there are 10 highly intriguing prospects: Safeties Thomas Davis of Georgia, Donte Nicholson of Oklahoma, Jamaal Brimmer of UNLV and James Butler of Georgia Tech. The cornerbacks include: Antrel Rolle of Miami and Adam "Pac-Man" Jones of West Virginia (both are potential top-10 picks); Justin Miller of Clemson, Marlin Jackson of Michigan, Corey Webster of LSU and Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech.


February 25th, 2005, 2:35 am
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BTW, let me count the errors in the article.

1. Since when is Fernando Bryant a "long-term solution" to the Lions troubles at cornerback? Didn't he get burnt frequently last season?

2. Yeah, Brock Marion made timely plays... against Jacksonville. I'm sure everyone remembers the angle he took on Jimmy Smith to lose that game.

3. Adrian Wilson isn't a free agent, he signed a 6 year deal with the club.

4. Jimmy Williams isn't in the NFL draft.

5. They listed the top safeties, and didn't include Ernest Shazor or Brodney Pool, the two best safeties in the draft (Davis is a OLB).


February 25th, 2005, 2:41 am
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Mariucci saying that Holt 'may start at either safety position' is like saying that it may snow in May. The possibility is there, but not the probability. If Holt is good enough to start in 2005, he was plenty good enough to have started in 2004. Mariucci is the Scottie Bowman of football. Why send in a talented rookie when you can sign and play a washed up veteran? Difference is Bowman won and Mariucci isn't.

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February 25th, 2005, 2:51 pm
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I would Love to see Holt start as a free safety I think he would be great and from what I have read form others sports writes they where amazed that he did not get more playing time this year. I was impressed with Holt last year when he stepped up and played a CB position that he never played before and made a couple of great plays.

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February 25th, 2005, 2:55 pm
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When Holt played cornerback as a rookie the Lions protected him by playing in nickle and dime packages and having him cover small areas in zone coverages. They were also playing Rick Mirer's Raiders and Chris Chandler's Bears. He was still behind Otis Smith and Doug Evans, who didnt even know the plays. He did have 3 INTs (2 as a SS) and a fumble recovery and seemed to be around the ball quite a bit as several other near picks ricocheted off his facemask and chest.

Still the Lions dont have the luxury of just handing him the starting job. To get in the field he has to do what he wasnt able to do last season which is to beat someone out for the job. It might actually be harder for him to do it now, depending on who they draft and which FA comes in. Last year was a great opportunity for him when Brian Walker went down and Bracy was really only considered a special teamer.

With regard to playing time and criticism of Mooch (more likely that Dick Jauron made defensive personnel decisions), the Lions start to the season had everyone thinking playoffs and down until real late it still looked like we might be able to slip in. With the playoffs on the line a coach cannot hand a player a starting spot soley on the justification of youth so they kept going with Walker.


February 26th, 2005, 10:15 pm
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