Detroit — Strong safety is one spot the Lions are guaranteed to have a new starter in 2016, and that means free safety Glover Quin will have to adjust to a different partner.
Making such adjustments has become part of the job for Quin, who will be playing next to a fourth different starter in his four years with the Lions. After playing with Louis Delmas for most of 2013, Quin played next to James Ihedigbo for most of 2014, and Ihedigbo and Isa Abdul-Quddus split the job in 2015.
Looking at the current roster, Rafael Bush has the most significant experience that could help the Lions in 2016, but Tavon Wilson and fourth-round pick Miles Killebrew will compete for the job, too.
“I don’t really think of it as being hard to me,” Quin said of playing with a new partner before the Taste of the Lions event at Ford Field. “Throughout my whole career I feel like it’s kind of been a situation where I’ve had to do a lot of communicating. … I take it as a challenge to be the consistent guy that can focus on my job and also focus on helping the other guys as well.
“Whoever’s playing there, I expect it to be a good bond, a good unit. I don’t think I’m that hard to play with. I think I’m pretty versatile, pretty flexible. I’m pretty smart so I can do a lot of things.”
Physically, the 6-foot-2 Killebrew looks like the hard-hitter that would pair well with Quin. From what he’s seen so far, Quin said Killebrew is a “big kid” who moves well for his size, but called him a “typical rookie.”
Obviously, it’s hard for any rookie to learn all of the schematic duties for a safety.
Quin said he and Ihedigbo bonded quickly before the 2014 season. In addition to having similar personalities, the duo worked out together in Houston in the offseason, and each player had a career year. Contrast that with 2013, when Delmas missed many practices before and during the season due to injury, and the Lions secondary still struggled.
“Whoever is out there, obviously the coaches feel that they should be out there, and if they put them out there, it’s time to go to work,” Quin said.
Slay’s next step
If Darius Slay continues to make strides as he did in each of his first three seasons, he should undeniably be one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL in 2016. And Quin thinks he’s already in that conversation.
“Yeah, he’s definitely top 10,” he said of Slay’s standing among cornerbacks.
A second-round pick in 2013, Slay became the Lions’ top cornerback in 2014, and after Rashean Mathis went out mid-season with an injury last year, teams stopped targeting Slay at all in the second half of the season.
“The thing about Slay is he’s a great, great, great player, and everybody’s going to say it from now until the end of time,” Quin said. “He’s a great, great, great cover guy. The only thing that he can do to take it to the next level is intercept the ball. I mean, that’s it.
“That’s the only thing that, if you look at his game and you look at his stats, you can say, ‘Well, he don’t have that many interceptions.’ That’s really all. That’s the only knock that you can say, which is not even a knock if you look at the film, you look at his play.”
Slay had two interceptions each of the last two seasons, so maybe Quin — who has 14 in three years with Detroit — can teach him a few things.
“When I’m done, he can have my hands,” Quin said.