ALLEN PARK -- Detroit Lions rookie cornerback Jonte Green has come a long way since being selected in the sixth round of this year’s entry draft.
Green was considered a raw talent with future potential not a year-one starter but circumstances can change quickly in the NFL.
Projected number two cornerback Aaron Berry was released prior to the start of the season due to off-the-field issues. Combined with injuries to players ahead of him on the depth chart forced Green into action – probably before he was ready.
Green got on the field in Detroit’s season opener against the St. Louis Rams and he was immediately picked on.
Green was on the field for only eight plays but was targeted twice, for two completions, including a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sam Bradford to receiver Brandon Gibson.
Since, Green has given up only two touchdowns in coverage while recording an interception and three pass defenses.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player come as far as he has in that short of time,” said head coach Jim Schwartz earlier in the year. “When we started rookie mini-camp he was well behind (in) just everything he needed to do to be a professional football player.
”Each step along the way he improved. He improved in OTAs, he improved in training camp and he’s improved over the course of the season. As the season’s gone on he’s just recognized things quicker. He’s done a better job within the scheme. He was never assignment challenged I guess you’d say, but just little things within the assignments that you just need recognition, you need time. He got it pretty quickly. He’s gone out there; he’s played well for us.”
Green admits that his head was spinning earlier in the year but he is starting to get the hang of things.
“It’s slowed down a lot since I’ve been here,” said Green of the speed of the game. “It’s kind of moving more slow out there for me.”
Green has been a pleasant surprise but has not yet reached his full potential. He has struggled to locate the ball at times, has some technique opportunities and will need to put in some work during the offseason to earn a starting job in 2013.
“Jonté Green’s had a couple deep balls down the field that he’s lost and balls that sort of got away from him,” said Schwartz, pointing out one of Green’s opportunities.
Green is aware of his opportunities and has been working to improve them.
“Locating the ball, finish at top of routes, technique,” said Green of the top areas he’s working on. “Really, just every component to getting better on the field.”
Green should get his fourth-consecutive start at right cornerback against the Chicago Bears this Sunday. It will be one last look at the rookie before next year’s OTAs.
The team will be paying close attention because the 23-year old, 6-foot corner could be a key player for the Lions going forward.