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The Detroit Lions continue to insist Teez Tabor is improving

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The coaching staff still appears to be in Tabor’s corner... at least publicly.

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Seattle Seahawks v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

One of the biggest blemishes on Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn’s career was his decision to draft Florida cornerback Teez Tabor in the second round of the 2017 draft. It was no surprise that Tabor didn’t have much of an impact on the team during his rookie year—Detroit was pretty set at cornerback that season and rookie corners don’t typically make a huge impact in their first year.

But 2018 has been an irrefutable disappointment. After poor play early in the year (29.2 PFF grade), Tabor has been relegated to the bench. In each of the last three weeks, Tabor has been a healthy scratch, despite Detroit’s struggles in the secondary.

But you wouldn’t hear any of the disappointment from the Lions coaching staff. They continue to say the right things and express confidence in the second-year corner.

“I think he’s a player that is just continually growing as a professional and a guy that’s really just doing a good job of trying to improve every single week, and I think he’s had a couple really good weeks of practice,” head coach Matt Patricia said on Friday. “He goes out and he works really hard and I have definitely seen improvement in his technique and some of the things that he’s done the last several weeks.”

This echoes what defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni has been saying about Tabor for the past month or two.

From November 26:

“He’s working hard, as I’ve said over the weeks—working on his game, working on techniques and fundamentals. And his number is going to come up and when it comes up, he has to go in and do a good job.”

From November 6:

I’ll say again what I said last week, he is an extremely hard-working guy. We’re constantly working on techniques and fundamentals and he’s working on all that stuff and doing everything we’re asking him to do. We’re excited to have him here. He’s a very talented, very athletic, long corner, which is hard to find.

From October 23:

He’s working extremely hard. I love his approach and his commitment to the preparation.

The “hard work” schtick is admittedly getting a little old at this point. While it often takes a long time for a cornerback to get adjusted to the NFL, that excuse is a little unfulfilling when undrafted rookie Mike Ford has started three out of the last four games and looked okay.

Obviously the Lions aren’t going to throw their own guys under the bus, nor should they. Patricia has been very careful about that in his inaugural year as head coach, and that’s a good way to keep the locker room on his side. Still, it’s hard to take anything he or his coaching staff says seriously when their words ring this hollow.

There’s always a chance that Tabor’s hard work and commitment eventually pay off in the long term, but it’s hard to believe any of that when all of the present evidence is to the contrary.