Cassius Vaughn hoping to stick with Detroit Lions

ALLEN PARK — When Cassius Vaughn signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent four years ago, one of the first people he turned to for advice was Champ Bailey.

For two years, Bailey, a 12-time Pro Bowler, was like a big brother to Vaughn, teaching him how to be a professional, helping him ply his craft in the NFL and doling out life lessons in general — lessons that still apply today, as Vaughn fights for a job in the Detroit Lions’ work-in-progress secondary.

Vaughn said he and Bailey, now with the New Orleans Saints, still keep in touch and that Bailey played a big part in molding him as a cornerback.

“Being patient, being aggressive, believing what I see, small things like that (he taught me),” Vaughn said. “Believing in my ability, different things of that nature. And as time goes on, you begin to do that, and playing in this league the short time I’ve been in the league, I began to do that and I can tell by the way I play now. Early in my career, I was a lot more passive. Now way more aggressive, believe in my talent and believe in what I can do.”

With two weeks left in the Lions’ offseason program, Vaughn has had ample opportunity to showcase his talent for his new team.

He signed a one-year deal with the Lions in April and has spent most of OTAs working with the second-team defense while Chris Houston recovers from toe surgery.

Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis are the favorites to start at cornerback this fall, and Vaughn is competing for a backup role with fourth-round pick Nevin Lawson, 2012 draftees Jonte Green and Chris Greenwood and others.

“Coming here is a great opportunity for me,” said Vaughn, who played two seasons in Denver and spent the last two years with the Indianapolis Colts. “It’s a clean slate for everybody, even myself. And just coming out here and being able to compete with these guys and work for a spot, you earn your spot. That’s the best thing about it.

“It’s different when you’ve got a draft pick that was first round. You know different things, you know that they’re going to play. But coming in here, they tell you, ‘Look, we’re going to put the best guy on the field at all times,’ so you just got to make sure you’re the best guy on the field at all times, no matter what you’re doing.”

Vaughn had an interception in an OTA practice that was open to the media last week, and his energy has been hard to miss all spring.

“He’s a guy that loves to play and he loves to tell you about it once in awhile as he’s playing,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said.

Last year, Vaughn finished second on the Colts with three interceptions while playing in a defense similar to the one the Lions are running this fall. Colts coach Chuck Pagano hired Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to run his secondary when Pagano coached the Baltimore Ravens’ defense in 2011.

And Vaughn’s playmaking ability could set him apart among a group of Lions cornerbacks that had just two picks total last year — both by Houston — though he’s quick to point out that he’s still competing for a job.

“It’s a small sample size,” Vaughn said. “This is OTAs. This does matter, (but) you just got to just keep putting them together. Got to be consistent, put more together, put more together. If you don’t do the same thing all the time, then you’re just a roller coaster.”

 

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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