Tavon Wilson to start at strong safety for Lions

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
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Lions safety Tavon Wilson

Allen Park – Tavon Wilson will start at strong safety for the Detroit Lions to start the season, but he’s unlikely to play every snap.

Coach Jim Caldwell confirmed Wilson earned the starting job entering the team’s Week 1 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, but two other contenders for the position during the offseason, Rafael Bush and rookie Miles Killebrew, will have roles.

“We have a lot of different packages that we use,” Caldwell said. “We utilize everybody available who can play plays. (Bush) is a guy that can make plays for us.

“He’ll be in there for us as well. So will Killebrew.”

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin highlighted the characteristics that made Wilson the best fit.

“When you watched him, he was very productive in the preseason,” Austin said. “He can do a lot of different things. He tackled well, tackled physically. He was really solid down the box. Those are some of the things we were looking for out of the guys. He did a really good job of it. If he can continue that throughout the season, we’ll be OK.”

Wilson, a former second-round draft pick, spent his first four seasons with the New England Patriots, but was largely confined to a special teams role. He followed general manager Bob Quinn to Detroit, signing a one-year deal with the Lions this offseason, looking for an expanded opportunity.

A backup to Bush much of training camp, Wilson jumped into a starting role for the third preseason game, generally regarded as the dress rehearsal for the regular season. He recorded five tackles in that contest.

Killebrew, the 6-foot-2, 222-pounder, still appears to be the long-term solution at the spot.  The fourth-round draft pick out of Southern Utah is an imposing physical presence in the secondary and will likely see his  situational role grow as he develops.

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

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