Why the Detroit Lions targeted veteran know-how for the secondary

Michael Brockers was that guy in the defensive line room. Alex Anzalone has been him for the linebackers.

But in the past two seasons, as the Detroit Lions rebuilt their defense from the ground up, they never had a veteran leader to do the right thing to help bring their secondary along.

“One of the things that Brad (Holmes) and I wanted to do was I thought it was always important to have, you really want to have a veteran who definitely understands what it’s going to look like and who can lead the group,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said during minicamp in June. “Kind of a coach that’s really a player for you. Alex does it in that room. That’s what Brockers was to us. A number of those guys and we never quite got that in the secondary and I wish we had because I just think it helps the whole room. It kind of teaches you, and that’s really what we have now.”

Detroit Lions cornerbacks Cameron Sutton (1) and Will Harris (25) work out during minicamp at the Detroit Lions headquarters and practice facility in Allen Park, Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

The Lions signed a trio of veteran defensive backs this offseason to add experience and leadership to a secondary that has been a weak link for two years.

Cam Sutton played six NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before signing with the Lions in March. Emmanuel Moseley started most of the past four seasons for the San Francisco 49ers after being an undrafted free agent in 2018. And CJ Gardner-Johnson made the Super Bowl last year with the Philadelphia Eagles and, like Anzalone, got his start on a defense that looks like what the lions drive.

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