It appears the fears of a long-term injury to Detroit Lions punt returner Jamal Agnew were not hasty. On Tuesday, special teams coordinator Joe Marciano told reporters that the team was in the beginning stages of preparing a long-term replacement for Agnew as the team’s punt returner:
Lions special teams coordinator Joe Marciano indicates Jamal Agnew has suffered a long-term knee injury, Lions will make a decision on internal options as his replacement in the coming days— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) October 9, 2018
Agnew was injured in the final quarter of Sunday’s game against the Packers when his knee bent awkwardly while tumbling towards the end zone. He was carted off after getting some help off the field. Former NFL doctor David J. Chao believes the video of the injury suggests he may have suffered a torn ACL, but the video, he admits, is inconclusive.
It’s interesting that Marciano suggests Agnew’s replacement will be an internal choice. The Lions could turn to Golden Tate on punt returns, as the veteran receiver has averaged 10.7 yards per return on 90 career punt returns. The Lions could also use Brandon Powell or Ameer Abdullah on returns. Abdullah was active for the first time this past Sunday and quickly assumed kick returning duties from Agnew. He has yet to log a punt return in his NFL career, however. You’d have to go back to his sophomore year at Nebraska to find his last punt return—way back in 2012.
But the Lions won’t need to just replace Agnew on special teams. The All Pro punt returner was just starting to emerge as an option for the Lions’ nickel cornerback spot. Agnew played in at least 10 defensive snaps in all five games this year, including 44 against the Patriots. With injuries mounting up in the secondary—Teez Tabor left Sunday’s game, while Quandre Diggs played with a cast, and Tavon Wilson missed the game entirely—don’t be surprised to see the Lions make an addition to the back end of the roster.