NFC North: Nate Hess

The Detroit Lions open their voluntary mini-camp on Tuesday, and they'll have a pair of new defensive backs on the field for it. The team announced it signed cornerbacks Aaron Hester and Nate Ness after working both players out on Monday, and both should be ready for the mini-camp with new coach Jim Caldwell.

Hester, the younger cousin of return man Devin Hester, was last with the Denver Broncos in training camp last season. The 24-year-old was cut at the end of camp in August, after being signed by the Broncos as an undrafted free agent.

Ness has played in eight career games, the last one coming with the St. Louis Rams in 2011. The 27-year-old began his career as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets in 2009, and also spent time with the Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins.

It's possible -- perhaps even probable -- both players are just on the roster for extra depth, but their stature should hit a familiar refrain for where the Lions are going with their cornerbacks. Both stand 6-foot-1, and they worked out at the team's facility in Allen Park, Mich., on the same day the Lions hosted cornerbacks Justin Gilbert (6-foot-0) and Stanley Jean-Baptiste (6-3) on pre-draft visits.

The Lions want bigger cornerbacks, and in a league that's both trying to keep up with larger wide receivers and likely to copy the Seahawks' approach after their Super Bowl win, the Lions are hardly the only team looking for size in their secondary. They certainly are taking steps in that direction. The shortest defensive back on their roster is the 5-10 Bill Bentley, and 11 of the 15 defensive backs on the roster are at least six feet tall, counting Hester and Ness. If the Lions do intend to play more press coverage under defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, they should have the size to do it.

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