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Saturday, February 26, 2011
Combine'11: Coleman gives Lions flexibility

By Kevin Seifert

INDIANAPOLIS -- Last week, we discussed the availability of free agent safeties Bob Sanders and O.J. Atogwe. At the time, the Detroit Lions were following an alternate avenue to fortify their safety position prior to the lockout and draft.

Veteran Erik Coleman signed a one-year contract, and speaking here at the NFL scouting combine, Lions coach Jim Schwartz suggested the move was no flyer. Coleman was released by the Atlanta Falcons after an injury-plagued season, but if nothing else, Coleman appears to be a safety net should second-year player Amari Spievey not progress as hoped.

"[Coleman] physically fits what we're looking for, size-wise and things like that," Schwartz said. "He also has starting experience. Amari Spievey needs to develop for us. He did some things very, very well as a rookie. Other things, he played like a rookie. He has big development ahead of him, but it helps tremendously that when you have Erik -- who is still young, fits the job description, has starting experience.

"He can start, maybe can back up. That race hasn't been run yet. I think it was one of those situations where he was available, he fits the job description of what we were looking for. He was good to add."

This year's safety rookie crop was scheduled to arrive at the scouting combine Saturday and will work out Tuesday. But it's hard to imagine the Lions investing a high draft pick in that position. Between Coleman, Spievey and Louis Delmas, they probably have enough depth to focus on other areas.