With starting cornerback Rashaan Melvin out due to injury, rookie Amani Oruwariye got a chance to start for the Detroit Lions and thrived.
There are very few positives to take away from Sunday’s loss by the Detroit Lions to the putrid Washington Redskins. Quarterback Jeff Driskel threw three interceptions and a mediocre defense made rookie passer Dwayne Haskins look serviceable.
Lions fans had to be expecting a few big pass plays to be given up on the day, especially when it was announced a few hours before the game that starting cornerback Rashaan Melvin would be out with a rib injury.
While the door for Melvin may have been closed, another one was opened for rookie cornerback Amani Oruwariye, who had only appeared in three games prior to this one, mostly on special teams.
Oruwariye got his first defensive snaps in last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, as while he only recorded one tackle, the former Penn State Nittany Lion said it felt great to get his sea legs under him and finally see some action at his primary position. Here’s what Oruwariye told Justin Rogers of the Detroit News earlier this week.
"“It was really good. I was happy to get out there and contribute on defense, like I knew I could. I came in with some certain personnel packages, got a couple good looks and felt good, felt normal, prepared. … It will give me some good experience to build on.”"
Oruwariye certainly built off that first defensive outing in the loss to Washington, as the rookie corner got the start and was able to rack up five tackles and two passes defended.
Oruwariye’s best play of the game came in the fourth quarter, when he made an athletic play to curve his body around the receiver to secure the first pick of his NFL career, while also putting the Lions in a prime position at midfield to put the game away.
Being that both Oruwariye and Haskins went to Big Ten schools, they have faced each other multiple times, which is possibly why the corner was able to read the rookie passer’s eyes so easily.
Defending passes is nothing new for Oruwariye, as in his time at Penn State, he was able to twenty passes and pick off opposing quarterback eight times to go along with 106 total tackles through 38 games.
Even though Oruwariye’s pick on Sunday happened in a meaningless game against an inexperienced quarterback, it’s just the kind of play that gives young defenders confidence, as Lions fans are praying Oruwariye doesn’t turn into the next Teez Tabor.
Tabor was never able to make big plays like the one Oruwariye made. While the pick may have been a fluke, at the very least, it gives a young corner confidence, and hopefully more reps allows Oruwariye to potentially develop into a future starting cornerback for the Lions.