Lions rookie Amani Oruwariye looks to build on first appearance on defense

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions rookie cornerback Amani Oruwariye, shown here during the preseason, didn't see a heavy workload in his defensive debut, logging nine snaps against the  Cowboys.

Allen Park — Whether it's been the lingering knee injury he suffered in the preseason, or simply the numbers game, it took until the 11th week of the regular season for Detroit Lions rookie cornerback Amani Oruwariye to see his first work on defense. 

The fifth-round draft pick didn't see a heavy workload in his defensive debut, logging just nine snaps in last Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. Playing largely in dime packages (six defensive backs), he saw action both on the outside and in the slot, but wasn't targeted while in coverage.

Oruwariye recorded one tackle, chasing down Randall Cobb from behind on a 49-yard gain, after teammate Justin Coleman tripped while in coverage. 

But even in a quiet day, it was good for Oruwariye to get his feet wet as he looks to start laying the groundwork for a bigger role in the future. 

"It was really good," Oruwariye said. "I was happy to get out there and contribute on defense, like I knew I could. I came in with some certain personnel packages, got a couple good looks and felt good, felt normal, prepared. ... It will give me some good experience to build on."

Orwariye now has appeared in three games for the Lions. In the previous two, he was limited to special teams. 

"I think he has a good skill set," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "We’re still in the initial stages of him playing in the NFL right now, so he has a lot to learn. I thought he played hard, I thought he played aggressive. I thought he tried to do what we asked him to do in both phases — special teams and defense. Hopefully, we’ll just continue to try to build from there."

The Lions figure to have a need at cornerback in 2020. Starter Rashaan Melvin is playing on a one-year contract, and there's a possibility the team entertains trade offers for Darius Slay as he enters the final year of his deal.  

At Penn State, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Oruwariye paired his above-average size with above-average ball skills, intercepting seven passes and defending 18 over his final 24 games at the school.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers