Cornerbacks Jacob Lacey, Kevin Barnes, Drayton Florence, Jonte Green and safety John Wendling are being put in position to show whether the Lion front office did enough this offseason to address the weakest unit of the defense.
If Alex Smith has a career game Sunday night, naysayers will have been proven correct that the secondary was, and is, the problem. If the secondary can limit big plays and not hand the game on a silver platter to the 49ers, Martin Mayhew should be commended for noticing last year's secondary problem was with depth, not the starting personnel.
Florence has always been overshadowed by his cornerback counterpart wherever he's played. For five seasons in San Diego, it was Quentin Jammer. He had a down year in Jacksonville, and then three years next to Jabari Greer and Leodis McKelvin in Buffalo.
He only spent a few weeks in Denver next to Champ Bailey before becoming a cap casualty, leading to his signing in Detroit. He's never been a standout, but he's always been consistent. He gets a chance against the 49ers to show that the Broncos made a mistake.
Lacey and Barnes are castoffs from Indianapolis and Washington, respectively. Both were primarily backups that took advantage of the opportunities they had to start. They're fast, hard hitting and have experience playing multiple positions. With possibly only four corners available, that is going to be important.
Jonte Green is a rookie and extremely raw. This is something Lions fans are used to in the secondary. The difference this year is he's the only one. He's inconsistent, but when he looks around at the rest of the defense, he isn't going to be looking into other eyes that return the same look. If he asks questions, he'll get answers. If he's unsure, he'll get directed.
Knowing Alex Smith is going to target him whenever he's on the field should actually help him be prepared.
Wendling and Erik Coleman started discussions that the two of them actually are a better safety combo than Delmas and Amari Spievey. Wendling takes much better angles than Spievey and doesn't get caught out of position. Spievey will get his chances, but he might have to prove his worth playing in the slot against Vernon Davis.
With Spievey losing his starting position, that left Houston as the only returning starter in the secondary. New faces always bring questions, but at least these questions have a history to back them up.
Last season behind Houston and Erik Wright, the Lions were left with Don Carey, Brandon McDonald, Aaron Berry and Alphonso Smith, all unproven commodities. Depth is an important part of any team. Experienced depth is even more important.
This Sunday will show why, and if it was enough.
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