Jerry Jacobs to see expanded role, but Detroit Lions standing by embattled CB Bobby Price

By Dave Birkett

Bobby Price had the worst game of his short NFL career last week.

The second-year defensive back was victimized for four passes of at least 20 yards in the Detroit Lions' 24-14 loss to the Chicago Bears and benched in favor of undrafted rookie Jerry Jacobs.

Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said Jacobs will see an expanded role Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, but he insisted the Lions are still all-in on Price as a long-term solution for their secondary.

"You see length. You see speed. You see mentality," Glenn said. "And every corner, man, once you get beat, every corner has in the back of their mind, 'God, I don’t want to get beat again.' But the thing about Bobby is, he keeps coming back. He keeps coming back. Man, he came in as a safety, so he’s still a baby as far as learning how to play corner."

Price moved from safety to corner midway through training camp after having never played the position.

He experienced some pronounced struggles late in training camp and was ticketed for a special teams-only role this fall, but those plans changed when Jeff Okudah and Ifeatu Melifonwu left the season's first two games with injuries.

Price — who did not play a defensive snap as a rookie last season — made his first career start in a Week 3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, when he broke up three passes and generally played well until busting a coverage assignment on the fourth-and-19 conversion that set up Justin Tucker's record-setting, game-winning field goal.

Last week, Price was a popular target for Bears quarterback Justin Fields. He gave up plays of 21, 28, 32 and 64 yards, and allowed five completions on eight passes thrown in his coverage area, according to Pro Football Reference.

"You can’t be one of those guys that, when it’s good, like last week, I mean, everyone was praising the guy. Now this week, he’s the worst thing since a slice of bread," Glenn said. "And I understand, that’s how the media operates. But man, we got to make sure with that player, keep showing the good things he’s done and keep trying to build on those good things and, man, you’ve got to block out all the noise.

"He’s going to have some ups and downs. He had his downs, and that’s just how it is. Every corner — well, not me; that was a joke — but every corner has those issues and these guys got to be able to (rebound)."

Glenn said both Price and Jacobs will play Sunday against a Vikings team that ranks 10th in passing offense and has two of the game's most productive receivers in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, but that Jacobs, an undrafted rookie out of Arkansas, will "get a little bit more (playing time) than he's been getting."

Jacobs played 18 snaps at right cornerback last week after playing exclusively in sub packages and on special teams through the season's first three games.

"Still needs a lot of work," Glenn said. "But the only way to give those guys a chance to really see how they operate in game situations is to give them a chance, and he had his chance last week. He operated very well."

Glenn said Jacobs, the third rookie (and second undrafted rookie) to see time at cornerback for the Lions this fall, has been on an upwards trajectory since spring, when he reminded Glenn of New Orleans Saints nickel back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.

"I saw the same fight, the dog mentality in training camp that you see from Chauncey," Glenn said. "I don’t want to say this guy is Chauncey, but there’s a chance he can be trained and developed to be a nickel or outside corner in our system, to be a player like that."

Glenn said Price reminds him of someone, too — Marcus Coleman, his former teammate with the New York Jets and Houston Texans, a big cornerback who played 11 seasons in the NFL.

"(He) has the build to dominate, cause you saw some reps in that game, when he gets his hands on you, it’s over. It’s over," Glenn said. "So we just got to continue to show him that. This is what you can do. Yeah, they made some plays on you, but this is who you are, this is what you can do. We want make sure we build on that."


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