By: Will Burchfield
Given the rate of roster turnover in the NFL, it doesn't take long for the wide-eyed rookie to become the grizzled vet. Glover Quin is living proof.
Quinn broke into the league in 2009, starting 15 games for the Houston Texans. Now, after three seasons in Detroit, he returns as the most experienced safety on the Lions' roster. And at 30 years old, the oldest.
With the Lions hoping to integrate some younger players into the secondary this season, particularly at safety, the onus has fallen on Quin to lead the way.
"It is a little different," said Quin after Tuesday's first minicamp session. "We've got some younger guys, but it's fun, that young energy. Anytime you can come out and play football it's fun. I get to teach some of the younger guys. It is weird being the older guy in the group, I can remember being the rookie, the young guy, and now I'm the vet, one of the old guys."
Everything is relative in the NFL. A seven-year career is a lifetime. A 30-year-old player is ageless. And a steak of 102 consecutive games played, which Quin caries into the 2016 season, is almost unthinkable.
Needless to say, Quin has accumulated a wealth of knowledge through his time in the NFL. He has learned how to rove a field and command it, how to play within a system and stray beyond it. And, perhaps most importantly, he has learned how to prepare himself, day to day and week to week, in order to take the field every Sunday.
If some of Quin's veteran knowhow rubs off on those around him, the Lions will be better for it. The savvy safety seems to be enjoying that process already.
"It's always important," Quin said of building rapport with his teammates. "Obviously you want to continue to work on bonds and relationships, and just play the game, get a feel for each other. Anytime you can work together in a team setting or walk-throughs, it's always helpful, so you just take each rep and try to execute and over time you get a feel for guys, what they like and don't like, and you get the chemistry down. So, it's been fun mixing it up with all of the guys.
Coach Jim Caldwell, for his part, is happy to entrust the development of his young safety core to one of the most experienced players on his roster. And he is confident Quin can be an extension of the coaching staff on the field.
"I think the big thing with Quin is the fact that he's like the quarterback back there in that perimeter. So, even if you have a couple young guys that are there he can get them in the right place. He can get them headed in the right direction," said Caldwell.
But it's not just about in-game execution. Players like rookie Miles Killebrew and the still-unproven Isiah Johnson must learn how to be professionals, how to conduct themselves on a daily basis. And they need look no further than Quin for the perfect approach.
"He sets a great example just in terms of technique and fundamentals. There's no one that has better fundamentals than he has, and he takes pride in it. Whether we're walking through or whether we're going full-speed, it's exactly the same for him. He's giving you the absolute best he can give you and he's always in the right spot. So, he's a great model for those young guys," Caldwell said.
Quin, it should be noted, isn't the only Lions' safety with considerable NFL experience. Don Carey is back for his sixth season in Detroit, and offseason signees Tavon Wilson and Rafael Bush bring some tenure of their own. But none of them have a track record as sturdy as Quin's.
For Killebrew and Johnson, Quin represents the future they hope to attain. He has been to the Pro Bowl. He has become a leader. And as defensive backs around him have fallen by the wayside, Quin has stayed on the field.
Killebrew and Johnson are still pushing to get on it. They can worry about the rest of the package later.
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