For being a second-round draft pick from just one year ago, Detroit Lions cornerback Teez Tabor isn’t entering 2018 with a lot of expectations. Last year as a rookie corner, Tabor barely got any playing time at all, and when he did, he was fairly unremarkable.
That’s not all that surprising, considering the learning curve for an NFL corner and given how stacked the Lions appeared to be at cornerback. However, going into 2018, there is still a lot of doubt in Tabor’s future with the team. The Lions added DeShawn Shead in free agency and re-signed Nevin Lawson to a two-year, $9.6 million contract. In other words, through their actions, the Lions didn’t show a lot of confidence in Tabor to make the jump from Year 1 to Year 2.
However, Tabor may have made a breakthrough on Tuesday, as the Lions kicked off mandatory minicamp. According to Kyle Meinke of MLive.com, Tabor took first-team reps over Lawson in practice. Not only that, but he apparently looked pretty comfortable out there against the starting offense.
“Tabor did look like he had a good day, and even picked off Matthew Stafford,” Meinke wrote in his minicamp Day 1 recap. “He just might be the odds-on favorite to start Week 1, supplanting Nevin Lawson.”
UPDATE: Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press also noted Tabor’s solid day, but said his interception came against Matt Cassel, not Stafford.
As with all offseason observations this far away from training camp and the regular season, it’s important to take this with a grain of salt. After all, during the first week of OTAs, head coach Matt Patricia said they’d be trying different players in different roles.
“We’re not in game plan mode. We’re just kind of in a learning mode and a fundamental mode,” Patricia said a few weeks ago. “So, you know, we’re just trying to see how much they can all handle in different spots.”
It’s certainly possible the Lions are just throwing Tabor against first-team competition to see how he responds, still believing that Lawson will be their No. 1 guy opposite Darius Slay. It’s also very likely that the Lions haven’t yet committed to who will be the second starting outside cornerback.
But the fact that Tabor is not only getting the opportunity to compete for that spot, but looking comfortable in that role is great news at this point in the offseason. If this trend continues, we could be in for a tight camp battle for the No. 2 corner spot.