Lions' Banks eager for fresh start, return to happier times

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park – Johnthan Banks is ready for a fresh start and a return to happier times.

Johnthan Banks is looking forward to reconnecting with former defensive backs coach Tony Oden in Detroit.

Acquired in a trade from the Tampa Bay Bucs on Tuesday, the new Detroit Lions cornerback is thrilled to be reuniting with his former defensive backs coach, Tony Oden.

“Working with TO my rookie year is probably the most fun I’ve had,” Banks said. “When I playing down in Tampa, after TO left, I was still using some of the stuff that he taught me. I couldn’t use all of it because it was different schemes and techniques, but still, to this day, I remember just about everything he taught me in Tampa as a rookie. And I think I had a pretty successful rookie season.”

A second-round pick in 2013, Banks started 16 games for the Buccaneers, recording 55 tackles, five pass defenses and three interceptions. One of those picks came in Week 12 against the Lions, when he corralled a deflected ball out of the hands of Calvin Johnson in the final minute, sealing a victory at Ford Field.

“Going back to that play, as a rookie going against the best receiver in the game, who wants to be in that situation?” Banks said with a smile “Calvin knows me personally now.”

Banks has always had a nose for the ball. The lanky, 6-foot-2 cornerback tallied seven interceptions his first two seasons and 16 during his four years at Mississippi State.

A high school center fielder, who was part of three state championship teams, he believes his baseball skills have carried over to the gridiron.

“You see that little white ball in the sky, then you see this big brown one in the sky, it makes things a little easier,” Banks said. “I just have a knack for the ball. If you throw it around me too much, I’m going to get one of them, eventually.”

Banks hopes he’ll see some more opportunities for interceptions in Detroit. He had been relegated to a special teams role in Tampa Bay season after a third head coaching change in four years.

That’s why he’s excited for a fresh start with the Lions. After cycling through three defensive coordinators and four defensive backs coaches, it’s nice to see a familiar face that had believed in him as a rookie.

“Every year, when you get a new defensive coordinator, a new defensive backs coach, everybody wants to mold and twist you into this player and that player, it kind of gets old,” Banks said. “You kind of lose your fire for the game and it’s frustrating.

“I know (Oden),” Banks said. “I know what he wants and I know what he expects. I’m going to try and get it done.”