The Detroit Lions report for training camp on Saturday, but that hasn’t stopped the front office from exploring some outside options and doing a little roster tinkering. According to USO Sports, and official NFL agency, the Lions worked out safety Stefan McClure on Thursday:
You may remember McClure from his four-year career at Cal. The former Golden Bear has the distinction of being the only player in Cal history to be named captain for three different seasons. In 37 games (28 starts), McClure amassed 165 tackles, 7.5 TFLs and 2 interceptions.
But McClure is sadly most known for his injuries during his college career. During his freshman season, he tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee. Just over a month later, he tore his right meniscus again. Then, as he neared recovery, he tore it a third time. Finally cleared of the meniscus tears, he suffered a calf strain, causing him to miss five weeks of the 2014 season.
McClure didn’t waste his time on the sideline. According to this amazingly thorough profile on McClure, he decided to become a student of the game while he rehabbed from injury:
That season, at home games, instead of moping about in sweats and a hoodie, McClure would be prowling the sideline in khaki slacks and a Cal polo shirt, with a headset over his hears.
He heard defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast dissecting offenses, making calls and adjustments. He sat in on meetings, taking as many mental reps as he possibly could. He studied with Ashley Ambrose, a longtime former NFL defensive back, who was then coaching the Cal secondary. For 20 months, McClure’s injury opened a window into a world he’d never known about. He didn’t just like it; he devoured it.
Finally, in his senior year, McClure managed to stay healthy for the entire 2015 season, and he made the most of it, finishing the year with 61 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, one sack and three passes defended.
McClure went undrafted (his agent reportedly talked with the Lions during the seventh round), but was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts in 2016. He failed to make the Colts’ final roster, but did spend a month on their practice squad. He was signed to a futures deal back in January, but was waived again in May.
At 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, McClure fits a pretty good athletic profile for an NFL safety, and the Lions could use some players for the start of training camp. Don Carey and Rolan Milligan were both placed on the PUP list earlier in the week, leaving Detroit with only five healthy safeties on the roster.
If Detroit decides to sign McClure, he would still have a very long route to make the final roster. With Alex Carter transitioning to the position and second-year safety Miles Killebrew expected to assume a bigger role, there isn’t much room for a new guy. But this wouldn’t be the first time McClure has overcome long odds to play football.