By Ashley Dunkak
When Detroit Lions cornerback Chris Houston thinks back on how many different defensive backs he has played with over three seasons with the team, the idea of naming each one is daunting.
“I definitely couldn’t do that,” Houston said. ” I don’t even remember half of the ones that were here. I think [safety Louis Delmas] probably played with 54 DBs since he’s been here, and I’m probably like 40-something. It’s a lot.”
Houston is right. It is a lot. In fact, Houston is hardly exaggerating about the number of cornerbacks with whom Delmas, the longest-tenured member of the Lions secondary, has played. In just four seasons with the Lions, Delmas has played with over 50 different defensive backs.
The 2009 season, Delmas’ first, there were 18 secondary players. Marquand Manuel and Marcus McCauley. Marvin White and Brian Witherspoon. Eric King and Darnell Bing. Kevin Hobbs and Anthony Henry. Jack Williams and William James. Kalvin Pearson and Ko Simpson. Jason David and Jahi Word-Daniels. Phillip Buchanon, Demarcus Faggins, DeAngelo Smith.
Of those 18, the only ones to still be on the roster at some point in 2010 were Delmas, King and Williams. New guys included Prince Miller, Randy Phillips and Paul Pratt; Ceandris Brown and C.C. Brown; Jonathan Wade and Dante Wesley; Tye Hill, Randy Phillips and Nathan Vasher. Five more who joined in 2010 – Amari Spievey, John Wendling, Alphonso Smith, Brandon McDonald and Chris Houston – would move on to the 2011 roster with Delmas.
Hardly coincidentally, that 2011 group that had six players who had been with the Lions secondary for at least a year helped the team to a 10-6 record that season. The only adds in 2011 were Anthony Madison, Vincent Fuller, Eric Coleman, Eric Wright, Aaron Berry, Chris Harris, Don Carey and Ricardo Silva.
In 2012, there was some carryover, with Delmas, Houston, Silva and Wendling returning and playing most games. Smith and Spievey came back too but only played in four and five games that season, respectively. Also joining the force were Ron Bartell and Kevin Barnes, Jerome Murphy and Justin Miller, Pat Lee and Jonte Green, Tyrell Johnson and Drayton Florence, and Erick Coleman, Jacob Lacey and Bill Bentley.
Delmas has played in 49 games over four seasons with the Lions. Wendling has played in 48. Houston has logged time in 43, and Spievey has taken part in 35. Another 12 defensive backs trying to make the 53-man roster have logged time in five games or fewer in a Lions uniform. Carey has played in 14 games over two years with the team, and Green has played in 15.
Even with quite a few players new to the team’s system in 2013, Delmas said this year’s unit is more settled, and he sees the group as one that is actually going to stay intact for more than just a year or two this time.
“This group I definitely feel comfortable with,” Delmas said. “I don’t think that we’re going to separate for a long time. I definitely think that we have a group that has found home. All we have to do now is prove it to the coaches and prove it to the world that we can be with each other and we can produce.”