DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 30: Cornerback Chris Houston #23 of the Detroit Lions returns a 100-yard interception for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 30, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Lions defeated the Broncos 45-10. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
The cornerback position for the Detroit Lions has been completely shaken up with Aaron Berry being released earlier this week. Chris Houston is back as a starter, but the other starting job is now completely up for grabs. Berry was expected to occupy the second starting spot, but that obviously will no longer be happening.
The vacancy in the starting lineup means there will be quite the competition for it during training camp. Alphonso Smith, who is one of only two returning players that still play cornerback (Don Carey is back but switched to safety), is among the new favorites to end up in the starting lineup. He is joined by Jacob Lacey, who was signed as a free agent earlier this offseason.
It might actually be a stretch to call Smith and Lacey the favorites given the Lions drafted three cornerbacks this year. Chris Greenwood, Bill Bentley and Jonte Green are the picks entering camp with hopes of cracking the starting lineup in their rookie season. Greenwood can probably be ruled out if he spends more than a few days on the PUP list once practice starts, but Bentley and Green should be in the mix.
The other cornerbacks on the roster right now are Drew Coleman, Justin Miller and Dontrell Johnson. Coleman and Miller were just signed in the last few days, but they could certainly get into the mix to start. Coleman is much more likely to emerge as a potential starter than Miller and Johnson given his track record and the fact that Miller and Johnson are return specialists more than anything.
Need going forward?
This is one of the few positions where the Lions actually have a pretty big need. With a starting job completely up for grabs, it's possible that somebody not even on the roster right now could be in the starting lineup come Week 1 of the regular season. Martin Mayhew is no stranger to making trades to upgrade the talent on the roster, and this is a situation where a trade could be a big help to the Lions' secondary.