With Keenan Lewis gone via free agency, Cortez Allen steps into the starting role opposite Ike Taylor. That will leave veteran William Gay to compete with a wide-open field for the nickel position.
Terry Hawthorne will have a chance to insert himself into that competition, and possibly even win it. He likely can't do that right out of the preseason, but if he plays well on special teams and in limited defensive spots, he could see more field time, as Allen did in his first year.
Hawthorne has all of the skills of a starting corner, but not the polish required to start right now. Carnell Lake will work with him and hopefully get him on the field sooner than later. His ability to make splash plays could help a defense that can't generate a lot of turnovers.