It’s only been two weeks, but Detroit’s defense hasn’t looked this good in years. Not since the 2014 Lions finished third in team defense DVOA that season.
On Wednesday, the Lions brought back a player from that unit in defensive end George Johnson. Released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just before the start of the regular season, Johnson spent two seasons with Tampa Bay after spending just one season in Detroit—the most productive season in his career. During that 2014 season, Johnson played in all 16 games for the Lions, posting 26 tackles, six sacks, and one fumble recovery.
In Tampa, Johnson played just one season with the Bucs. In 2015, he started played in 11 games (five starts) and tallied 23 tackles and two forced fumbles. His 2016 season was lost when he suffered a hip fracture during training camp.
To make room for Johnson, the Lions waived defensive end Alex Barrett. The move comes as a bit of a surprise considering the undrafted rookie played significant snaps in both of the team’s first two games. Detroit also used Barrett as the team’s fullback on occasion for a few plays in the red zone.
Barrett is practice squad eligible, so he could potentially come back to the squad, but he must clear waivers first.