ALLEN PARK (AP) — When he joined Baltimore in 2012, James Ihedigbo couldn’t wait for pointers from veterans such as Ed Reed.
Now, he’s doing the same for the Detroit Lions.
The team is hoping that experience and sharing helps as Ihedigbo and fellow safety Glover Quin give Detroit one of the most seasoned safety tandems in the NFL.
Ihedigbo, signed in the offseason to replace Louis Delmas, had 101 tackles and three interceptions last season with the Ravens. Quin, who came from Houston before last season, had 57 tackles and three interceptions in his first year in Detroit.
The Lions will lean on them to shape a secondary that still has no clear-cut starters on the corners.
Ihedigbo doesn’t mind the mentor role.
“We’re like brothers,” he said of the secondary. “We study together, we know the success of our team is riding on our shoulders.”
The Lions ranked 23rd in pass defense last season and got only eight of their 15 interceptions from defensive backs. They enter 2014 with a young group of cornerbacks, most notably Bill Bentley, Chris Greenwood and Darius Slay, none of whom have played more than two full NFL seasons.
Veteran Rashean Mathis also is in the mix at cornerback and coach Jim Caldwell said he’s glad to have the two veteran safeties to direct traffic.
“Those guys are like the quarterback back there in that perimeter,” Caldwell said, “so they do a great job communicating.
“They do a great job making sure everybody is in the right place and I think that’s key.”
Ihedigbo said he and Quin welcome the leadership role and are happy to help as younger players seek his advice.
“They do embrace some of the knowledge I have to offer,” he said. “I’ve played in big games and started in Super Bowls. They listen to the knowledge, but that’s knowledge I’ve learned from guys like Ed Reed.
“We go back and forth. Younger guys may ask for my opinion and sometimes I see something and let them know what I think. We look out for each other.”
The Lions begin exhibition play Aug. 9 against visiting Cleveland.
Notes: DT Nick Fairley did not speak to reporters for a second straight day. On Thursday, an Alabama judge ordered him to spend one year on probation and pay $750 in fines and court costs because of drunken and reckless driving in his hometown of Mobile. Caldwell said the team will wait to see what, if any, action the NFL will take to discipline Fairley. … WR Calvin Johnson got a day off from drills. Caldwell has said the team will monitor his reps after he had offseason knee and finger surgeries. … WR Golden Tate celebrated his 26th birthday and got a special surprise — his girlfriend flew in from the west coast to join him at camp. … Sunday is the team’s first day off since camp opened.
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