Teams add and remove players all the time during training camp and much of the time it goes unnoticed. This appeared to be the case as former Miami Hurricanes linebacker Raphael Kirby reported via his own Twitter account that he had signed to the Detroit Lions before any news of a signing broke. This seemed to be confirmed when it was followed up by a Hurricanes beat writer, Christy Chirinos.
It's been a tough journey for former Canes LB Raphael Kirby since his knee injury last year. Today? A shot in NFL. https://t.co/nMh8Gzfwav— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) August 1, 2016
Raphael Kirby played inside linebacker for the Hurricanes where he notched 44 total tackles and two sacks in 2015 before he was sidelined with a knee injury. The senior linebacker had a more notable season in 2014 where he managed 4.5 sacks and two interceptions, as well as two forced fumbles in the ACC. Slightly undersized for the position, Kirby is just a hair over six feet tall and 232 pounds but we were unable to build an athletic profile due to his injury. He was considered a priority free agent prior to the draft, but after going undrafted was unable to find a spot in camp.
Coming into training camp, Kirby will be fighting for a roster spot against former second-round pick Kyle Van Noy, trusted veteran Josh Bynes, and rookie Antwione Williams. This is in addition to Jon Bostic, whom the team traded for, and free agent signees Zaviar Gooden and Khaseem Greene. The only spots that are truly locked in are starting linebackers DeAndre Levy and Tahir Whitehead, however, so there's plenty of space to work with.
A former team captain, Kirby was praised often by former Hurricanes head coach Al Golden, who now holds the title of tight ends coach for the Lions. While it was his injury that kept him from being drafted in 2016, it is almost certainly Golden who put him on the team's radar and got him brought into camp for a look. The Detroit Lions linebacker group is reasonably deep at the moment but there is enough uncertainty that Kirby could force himself into the conversation on the back end of the roster. Likewise, if he is healthy enough and shows enough he could be positioned to a practice squad spot. Ultimately it will be health that tells us if we'll even see him at all. We will report if his signing is confirmed by the team and any subsequent corresponding moves.
Sunday night, the team reported it had made no transactions for the day.
UPDATE: 8/1 10 a.m. ET - Kirby's agency confirmed a three-year deal with the Lions:
UPDATE 2: 8/1 12 p.m. ET - The Lions have now confirmed the signing, along with the subsequent release of linebacker Dominique Tovell.