ALLEN PARK -- The recently acquired Drayton Florence participated in his first practice as a Detroit Lion on Monday. The Lions dropped safety Ricardo Silva from the 53-man roster to make room for the veteran cornerback.
Florence is entering his 10th season in the NFL and brings a wealth of experience to a relatively young secondary.
The 31-year-old signed a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos this offseason after spending the three years with the Buffalo Bills but failed to crack Denver’s 53-man roster.
“He’s a veteran player,” said head coach Jim Schwartz. “Played inside, played outside. Has a lot of experience. He can play press and has some multidimensional skills that we like and he’s very experienced. He didn’t make it at Denver but he had a good career before that and we’re looking forward to having him contribute for us.”
Florence wasn’t signed simply because of his past accomplishments. The Lions also examined his preseason performance (six tackles and a pass defense) before deciding to bring him in.
“We definitely look at preseason for sure,” said Schwartz. “You want to see what he looked like and they had a pretty good situation at corner. We liked the way he looked in the preseason. He also has a whole body of work but definitely this year’s preseason went into the decision.”
Florence’s recent body of work includes 108 tackles, six interceptions and two touchdowns in the last two seasons. He started all 16 games for the Bills a season ago and played in over 96% of their defensive snaps.
Florence played mostly right cornerback a year ago but does have the ability to play both sides of the field as well as shift inside if needed. With injury concerns plaguing starting corner Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas, Florence and his experience is a welcomed addition.
“That’s one of the reasons we like him, because of his experience,” said Schwartz. “We all know that injuries are a fact of life in the secondary. It’s not what happens if you stay healthy but what happens when you get injured. You need have good depth and you need to have players that can fill a lot of different roles and we think he fills both of them.”
Florence did have some struggles in 2011. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed a quarterback rating of 103.3 with passes thrown against him conceding six touchdowns and 714 yards.
Still, he satisfies the needed depth while providing a reliable presence in the secondary. His value will be tested if the Lions cannot stay healthy in the secondary.