| Detroit Free Press
Debating Detroit Lions at midseason; what’s on line vs. Washington?
Debating the Detroit Lions’ good and bad at midseason, and what’s on the line vs. Washington this week? Filmed Nov. 12, 2020.
Second-year Detroit Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye was happy to see his fellow corners together healthy and available for the first time this season, even if it meant losing his starting job.
“It was great,” he said in a conference call Thursday. “Coming into the season, we had four great corners and many more besides that. We just knew that if we were healthy and giving our best effort we could be a force in that backfield. To have us all out there we know is for the better.
“So it’s great to see (Desmond Trufant) out there and really getting to see him thrive, he had a great game, and Jeff (Okudah) coming along and just all of us working together with the safeties. It’s just a great feeling.”
Oruwariye had started every game of the season before last week’s game against Minnesota, the first game of the season when Trufant, Okudah, Oruwariye and nickel cornerback Justin Coleman were healthy and available at the start of the game. Trufant’s return from a hamstring injury sent Oruwariye to the bench. But he took over for Okudah in the third quarter when the rookie left with an ankle injury.
Okudah had a full practice Thursday, so it’s unclear who will start on the outside opposite Trufant for Sunday’s game against Washington at Ford Field. But Oruwariye said he isn’t concerned about his role and prepares as though he’s going to start.
“Just knowing how this league is,” he said, “you’ve got to prepare like you’re the starter every week, regardless of where you’re at, regardless of my role. I played some nickel in the Saints game. Never thought I would have to play that. But you’ve just got to be ready when your name’s called, regardless of what the situation is.
“So I don’t let that affect me at all. I just try to go out to practice, put my best foot forward and get better, study film and just be ready when I am out there so that when that time comes I’m ready.”
Oruwariye isn’t best suited to play nickel, but the Lions require their defensive players to be versatile and coordinator Cory Undlin said he strives to devise packages that utilize all his cornerbacks.
“It’s definitely a different feel,” Oruwariye said of playing nickel, “just based on you’ve got a lot more of the field to cover, based on what where they’re aligned. With all the man coverage we run sometimes it’s just having corners kind of over (alignments) sometimes and like (triple receiver) formations and things like that, we get prepared to be able to play in that sense.
“So it’s not completely unfamiliar territory but it’s definitely different, it’s definitely a feel thing. So I’ve just got to be ready regardless of where I’m at.”
Oruwariye hasn’t had the impact he had last year, when he came up with two interceptions — one against Washington — in nine games . He hasn’t had an interception or any other impact plays this season.
Still, Oruwariye has been the most durable of the Lions’ cornerbacks. And even if, as the old saying goes, the most important ability is availability, Oruwariye wasn’t about to claim he deserves the starting job.
“I just control what I can control,” he said. “Like if I just go out there and put my best foot forward and make plays, then however it shakes out it shakes out. So I don’t want to really worry too much about that. I just want to control what I can do.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.