Like every team, the Lions trimmed their roster to 53 men on Friday. Most cuts did not come as a surprise, but if there were one head-scratching dismissal, it was cornerback Alphonso Smith.
Despite some unmistakable woes, Smith played big minutes last season for Detroit. With a seemingly thinner secondary resulting after losing Eric Wright to free agency and also parting ways with Aaron Berry, Smith was expected to see increased minutes and be even more valuable this season.
Smith is probably most remembered for his bizarre, pirouette-like attempt to chase down wide receiver Robert Meachem on 56-yard touchdown sprint on a pass from Drew Brees in last season’s NFC wild card playoff game. Unfortunately for Smith, this was not the only time he was made to look foolish while attempting to cover an above-average wide receiver.
Another roster move that was made this weekend was the signing of veteran defensive back Drayton Florence, which forced Detroit’s hand to release yet another bubble player. Many speculated that this could have placed rookie Jonte Green on the chopping block, but safety Ricardo Silva was the player who ended up getting “pink-slipped.” Like Smith, Silva was called upon last year at times, though he wasn’t activated until week 13.
The releases of Smith and Silva can only mean that head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham have great confidence in the likes of a few new faces in the Lions secondary. Along with Florence and Green, the Lions brought in cornerback Bill Bentley in the third round of last April’s draft. As of now, Bentley is tabbed the starter next to returning starter Chris Houston, but Florence is a savvy veteran who will very likely see starter-like minutes.
Along with Houston, Detroit is also welcoming back safeties Louis Delmas, Amari Spievey and (a seemingly much improved) John Wendling. Only time will tell if the Lions are covering a gaping wound with a small bandage or if they have truly made strides in shoring up their much-maligned secondary who gave up 300+ yards through the air on nine different occasions last season.