Healthy Glover Quin playing huge role in Lions' defense

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Guildford, England — Glover Quin never used his ankle injury as an excuse in 2013, the safety's first season with the Lions. He didn't even disclose he played through a torn ligament until after the season when he underwent surgery.

In Quin's second season with the Lions, he's showing how well he can play when healthy and appears plenty worthy of the team's richest free-agent contract last year, a five-year deal worth $23.5 million.

Seven games into 2014 Quin has already matched his career high of three interceptions, and now that he's back to his natural position of free safety after playing strong safety last year, he's had a huge role in the Lions sporting the NFL's No. 1 defense.

"I had an ankle last year that was pretty dramatic, and I think it affected the way that I could move on the field and limited me," Quin said Tuesday during the Lions' Play 60 event at Surrey Sports Park. "So, I was hampered in a sense. I couldn't do some of the things that I wanted to do. I couldn't make some of the plays that I knew that I could make, so after the season we fixed it and I was continuing to recover. And it's feeling good so far."

Quin this season has 30 tackles, one for loss and four passes defensed, but his impact on the field extends past his play. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said Sunday that Quin has taken second-year cornerback Darius Slay under his wing, and Slay has shown drastic improvement this year.

"He's one of those guys that every day in practice you hear him talking to the corners, talking to the linebackers having discussions," coach Jim Caldwell said of Quin. "I mean, his communication skills are great just in terms of football. His football IQ is off the charts and between him and (James Ihedigbo), both our two safeties are experienced guys, and that experience is absolutely invaluable. He's one of those guys that just has a knack for coming up with a big play at the right time."

Caldwell also noted Quin doesn't wilt under pressure, and he made a play in Sunday's win over the New Orleans Saints that could be considered among the biggest for the Lions by season's end.

With the Lions down 23-17 with less than 3:30 remaining, Quin intercepted Drew Brees and returned it to the New Orleans 14, setting the Lions up for the winning touchdown. On the play, Quin and Ihedigbo disguised their coverage knowing Brees would try to throw right to the line to gain.

The week before, in a win over the Minnesota Vikings, Quin caught an interception in a similar way, inducing a Teddy Bridgewater pass to Cordarrelle Patterson in the end zone where Quin was ready to make the pick.

"When you have great rush and great coverage, it's tough for the quarterback to fit some of those balls in there," Quin said. "Sometimes they force it, some of those get tipped and sometimes you go into a game where you have two or three plays you kind of key in on and hope that they run them and hope you're in the right call when they run them.

"And that's happened twice for us this year, so I'm just happy that I've been able to make some of those plays."