LIONS INSIDER

Lions likely to rely on rookie CB Green to play big role Monday

Posted Oct 20, 2012

With Jacob Lacey ruled out for Monday and Bill Bentley doubtful, the Lions are likely to turn to rookie Jonte Green to play a big role Monday at Chicago -- possibly a starting role at right cornerback.

With Jacob Lacey ruled out for Monday and Bill Bentley doubtful, the Lions are likely to turn to rookie Jonte Green to play a big role Monday at Chicago -- possibly a starting role at right cornerback.

Green, the team’s sixth-round pick out of New Mexico State, has been thrust into playing corner a couple times this season, including last week at Philadelphia.

In their victory over the Eagles, Green had a pass break up on Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin and finished with a good all-around game playing 18 snaps after Lacey and Bentley left with a concussion and shoulder injury, respectively.

“It basically just builds confidence,” Green said of last week’s performance. “You have to get out there and make plays, help my defense out. Basically just help me out there in my play and build more confidence.”

Green has shown flashes of terrific play at times this year; but there have been other times he’s looked like a rookie.

That’s simply life in the NFL for a rookie cornerback, but now the Lions could need him in a starting role and can’t afford him to play his age.  

“We put him in there the whole second half and we played everything we always play and he did a great job,” Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said of Green’s performance last week. “So I’m looking forward to seeing his development a little bit more and if he plays, he plays.”

Green saw playing time vs. the Rams Week 1 and was beat on a touchdown by receiver Brandon Gibson. He was right there in coverage on the play, but could not jar the ball loose in the end zone. He couldn’t make the play.

But last week, against the Eagles, he made the play.

“Going back to rookie mini camp, Jonte’s been on a steady improvement,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. “He improved in OTAs. He improved in training camp. He’s improved in preseason and as the seasons going on. He’s got very good size. He’s got very good speed. He’s stepped up all along the way.”

The Lions also re-signed cornerback Alphonso Smith this week as insurance for Lacey and Bentley, and he’s likely to have a role in nickel situations; but if Bentley doesn’t play the Lions are going to need Green to continue on that progression Schwartz mentioned.

“I’ve improved a lot,” Green said of where he is as a player now vs. Week 1 of the season. “I just get out there and practice. Practice makes perfect. Get out there and work on my craft. Then I'll just improve each day.”