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Lions still not sure what they have in Johnthan Banks

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Johnthan Banks

Allen Park – The Detroit Lions are still trying to figure out what they have in Johnthan Banks.

The team acquired the veteran cornerback in a deadline deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was a healthy scratch his first week with the team, and the Lions coaching staff wants to be patient before putting him on the field.

“As you watch him, I think the biggest thing for him is how fast can he learn what we’re doing, so that we don’t put him out there and put him in an awkward position where he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “He goes out there and we make him fail, we don’t want to do that.”

Banks, a former second-round pick, fell out of favor with Tampa Bay’s new coaching staff, the team’s third in four seasons. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder had showed good ball skills early in his career, recording seven interceptions his first two seasons.

“He’s got some skills, he’s long, he can run,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “He seems like he catches on to things pretty quickly, but he’s still like I said, still learning. So, we’ll see. He’s improving, he’s getting a little bit better, we’ll see what happens.”

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The Lions have committed to keeping Banks as an outside cornerback, where the team is currently getting steady play out of Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson. Austin said once Banks is up to speed, they could rotate him into the lineup, the way the Lions did with Johnson Bademosi earlier in the season.

“I hope to get something out of him,” Austin said. “Like anything, you don’t want to trade and bring a guy in and not be able to use him. At some point we’re hoping to use him, when that is I’m not quite sure.”

Banks is in the final year of his contract and will be a free agent at the end of the season.