A few weeks back, when the Detroit Lions special team coverage units were struggling mightily, I heard from a ton of fans wishing Detroit would sign back Don Carey, who commonly won Special Teams Player of the Year awards from the Lions during his seven years in Detroit.
It came a few weeks later, but the Lions have actually gone through with it, signing Carey to the active roster while cutting defensive end Eric Lee.
The Lions chose not to re-sign Carey this offseason and the special teamer ended up in Jacksonville with the Jaguars. Unfortunately for Carey, he suffered a preseason hamstring injury and was placed on injured reserve. The Jaguars ended up releasing him before the season started.
The timing of the addition is curious. Carey’s best position is as a gunner on punt coverage, and the Lions are coming off their best performance of the season in that aspect. In six punts against the Panthers, the Lions allowed a total of -1 return yard.
One theory about the move is that cornerback Mike Ford, who acted both as gunner and as cornerback against the Panthers last week, may make a more significant impact on defense, and the Lions want a fresher body on special teams.
Whatever the reason, the Lions were clearly keeping an eye on Carey—having worked him out back in September, and now Carey is back in Detroit. That’s good news for their special teams unit.