New Detroit Lions' CB Drayton Florence made one thing very clear when he met with the media after his first practice with the team Monday: He's committed to the future in his new home -- and he wants no part of questions about the tumultuous two-month stint in Denver that saw him go from prized free agent signing to deadline day cut.
“I'm moving forward,” he said. “That's what you've got to be able to do in this business is move forward. As a corner, you've definitely got to have a short memory.”
That short memory was evident when he was asked a seemingly innocuous question about the challenges of practicing against new Broncos' QB Peyton Manning.
“I'm not practicing against Peyton anymore,” he said. “So I don't think it's going to be a challenge at all.”
Florence is taking the high road about his departure from the Broncos -- taking a classy approach to what had to be a humbling experience for the tenth-year player. After a decade in the league, he's learned that there's usually nothing to be gained from taking a shot in the press against a former employer, especially in the tight-knit NFL community. It's clear, however, that he still feels that he can compete for serious playing time in Detroit.
“The older you get, the better you should be getting,” he said. “I feel that's where I'm at.”
For Florence to prove he's better than some of the league's younger DBs, however, he needed to find a franchise that was willing to offer him another chance.
That's where the Lions come in.
Detroit has a history under GM Martin Mayhew of offering players who had fallen out of favor with other teams -- like current starters Erik Coleman and Chris Houston – a chance to resurrect their careers.
That reputation has made its way around the league, and Florence said his first meeting with Lions' management was enough to convince him not to meet with any of the other teams who had expressed interest in signing him.
“I came here and didn't go anywhere else,” he said. “This was the first stop and the best fit, so we made [a deal] happen.”
When asked what it was that made the Lions' his top choice, Florence echoed the opinions of most of Detroit's defensive free agent signings over the past two seasons: The chance to play behind Detroit's vaunted D-line.
“We've got great guys coming off the edge of the ball in [DEs] Cliff [Avril] and Kyle Vanden Bosch,” he said. “Obviously it's a great fit for a corner...because a quarterback can't go to his second and third reads. He's got to get rid of the ball quick, and that allows us to play a little more physical and be aggressive.”
While the Lions' front four was a key factor in Florence's decision, he's also looking forward to playing for Gunther Cunningham, who is one of the league's most respected defensive coordinators.
“I've known [Cunningham] throughout the years,” he said. “I know a little bit about his DNA and what he likes to do on the defensive side of the ball, so I thought [playing for him] would be a great opportunity for me."
Florence isn't sure how much action he'll see against the Rams Sunday, but he says he's prepared to handle any role the Lions need him to fill. In fact, the only thing Florence hasn't figured out is where in Detroit he's going to live. After a weekend spent getting familiar with the Lions' scheme and Week 1 opponent, he says finding a home outside the Lions' locker room is the least of his worries.
“The logistics will take care of themselves,” he said. “I could sleep here [in the locker room] – it's free.”