Lions' Aaron Glenn on Rookie Corners: 'You're Not Playing App State'

Glenn believes Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw Jr. will be "ready to play each week.”
Aaron Glenn
Aaron Glenn / Junfu Han, USA TODAY NETWORK
In this story:

The Detroit Lions will have a new-look cornerbacks room this upcoming season. The room will feature the likes of veterans Carlton Davis III and Amik Robertson, plus a pair of youngsters in 2024 draft picks Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw Jr.  

Detroit general manager Brad Holmes used his first two picks in this past April’s NFL Draft to select Arnold (No. 24 overall) and Rakestraw (No. 61 overall). 

Arnold, a product of the University of Alabama, posted an impressive stat line in his final season with the Crimson Tide: five interceptions, 17 passes defensed, a forced fumble, a sack and 63 total tackles, including 6.5 for loss. 

Meanwhile, Rakestraw – formerly of the Missouri Tigers – amassed 107 total tackles, including eight tackles for loss, 24 passes defensed and one interception in 36 career collegiate games.

Additionally, in his last season with the Tigers, he earned an 80.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, including a 78.7 coverage grade and a very impressive 89.0 run-defense mark.

Although Arnold and Rakestraw are both products of the venerable Southeastern Conference, they likely won’t be stars overnight. They’re each expected to endure their fair share of growing pains, and are bound to get beaten in coverage from time to time. 

Yet, Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is of the mindset that both of the first-year defensive backs will be ready to take on the challenges of the NFL.  

“Here’s what I think. I tell these guys this. You’ve got guys that come from, like Terrion comes from Alabama. You’re not playing Georgia every week. Once you get to the NFL, you’re playing a top-notch player every week and he has to understand that and there’s no weeks off,” Glenn told reporters at OTAs this week. “You’re not playing App State now. You’re playing a quality NFL receiver every week. He’s gonna get his lumps, just like Rakestraw. They’re gonna get their lumps. But, I do know this, the mentality of those guys, they are fighters. And, that’s the reason we got them. They’ll be ready to play each week.”

The rookie cornerback duo will have former longtime Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend as its position coach in 2024.  

Townsend, who most recently spent two seasons as the passing game coordinator/cornerbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, is going into his 10th year as an NFL coach. 

Townsend replaced former Lions cornerback Dre Bly on the team’s coaching staff. Bly spent one season as Detroit’s cornerbacks coach. 

Glenn has the ultimate level of trust in Townsend being able to teach Arnold and Rakestraw how to play defensive back at the NFL level.

“(Townsend is) outstanding and very knowledgeable, very relatable,” Glenn expressed. “Him and Jimmy (defensive assistant Jim O'Neil), who I coached with in Cleveland, both of those guys will do a hell of a job teaching those guys, and they’re not gonna take the thumb off those guys at all. They’re gonna demand, not demean, (but) demand excellence every play.”

Vito Chirco


Vito has covered the NFL and the Detroit Lions for the past five years.  Has extensive reporting history of college athletics, the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Mercy Athletics.  Chirco's work include NFL columns, analyzing potential Detroit Lions prospects coming out of college, NFL draft coverage and analysis of events occurring in the NFL.  Extensive broadcasting experience including hosting a Detroit Tigers podcast and co-hosting a Detroit Lions NFL podcast since 2019.