By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – New Detroit Lion Cassius Vaughn, formerly of the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts, said 12-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey helped him tremendously early on, when the two played together in Denver.
“I was young, I was undrafted, he took me under the wing and just made everything for me easier,” Vaughn said Wednesday. “Showed me how to do a lot of different things that I [maybe] can’t speak on on a mic. He definitely showed me the ins and outs of being a cornerback, and it just elevated from there once I got more experience. Still talk to him to this day, and he’s one of the guys that I look to if I have a question. He’s like a big brother, and he showed me a lot of stuff. I appreciate it. It made me grown as a man and as a person on and off the field.”
Bailey’s name came up first when Vaughn spoke about his enthusiasm on the sidelines, where he yelled encouragement to teammates throughout the offense-versus-defense drills throughout Wednesday’s OTA practice. Vaughn was still a young player when played with Bailey, but after four seasons in the NFL, now he is the one assuming a veteran role and working to be a mentor to younger players.
“I was trained from one of the best, to me the best corner ever, and that was Champ Bailey, and a whole bunch of older guys,” Vaughn said. “I just try to bring energy to what I like to do. I like the defense, I like the whole man-to-man scheme and different things, and I feel like I’m a playmaker in the back end. Any chance I get, try to get my hands on a ball, any time I can try to make a play, I’m going to celebrate with my team, I’m going to celebrate with myself because I know when they go bad, y’all going to write about me, and it’s going to be bad.
“It’s all fun,” Vaughn added with a laugh, “and that’s the energy you got to bring to the young guys. You’ve got to make them understand that, hey look, we’re a team. We’re competing out here every day, but once we get between the white lines and we got the same jersey on and we’re going against somebody else, we want the best for everybody.”
In the OTA practices open to media, the defense has looked potent even against the loaded Lions offense. Vaughn considers that a good sign about the defense’s potential.
“We know that our offense can put up points, and we’ve got to be able to contain them in practice because like I said before, we want to be one of the best groups out here,” Vaughn said. “Mediocrity is not the level that we want to be at. We want to be great. We had chances last year as a team, we slipped on that, but this year’s a new year. We’re coming out with a different fire, different energy and different people, so you can’t expect what you got from us last year.”
After entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi, Vaughn has played in 54 games over four seasons, recorded 124 tackles and snagged five interceptions – including three picks in 2013. Vaughn looks forward to an opportunity to prove himself worthy of playing time this season.
“You can’t even put it in words,” Vaughn said. “Coming here is a great opportunity for me. Like I said before, it’s a clean slate for everybody, even myself. Just coming out here and being able to compete with these guys, work for your spot, you earn your spot. That’s the best thing about it. It’s different when you got a draft pick that was first round. You know different things. You know they’re going to play.
“But coming here, they tell you, ‘Hey look, we’re going to put the best guy on the field at all times,’ so you’ve just got to make sure you’re the best guy on the field at all times, no matter what you’re doing,” Vaughn continued. “Even if the ball doesn’t get thrown your way, you’ve got to make sure that you’re in the right spot, where they need you to be, and be consistent. That’s what we preach, and that’s what we’re looking for.”