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2017 Detroit Lions roster review: Don Carey is still a special teams ace

Don Carey remains valuable in kick coverage, but will he stay on staff during the Patricia era?

NFL: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Our 2017 roster review will reexamine the Lions’ roster and how it played out last season. We’ll take a look at expectations, performance and potential role in the future.

Today, we continue our discussion with Detroit Lions safety Don Carey.

Don Carey

Expectations before 2017

Carey was entering a year with extreme competition at the safety position. Having missed OTAs and minicamp due to an injury that landed him on the PUP list originally, it was unclear if Carey was going to make the final 53-man roster based on his special teams value alone.

Carey had to compete for a spot with Tavon Wilson, Miles Killebrew, Glover Quin and Alex Carter, who was making the transition from cornerback to safety. Carter had youth on his side, but transitioning to a new position doesn’t happen overnight (unless you’re Quandre Diggs).

Actual role in 2017

2017 stats: 13 games (0 starts): 9 tackles, 1 forced fumble
PFF Grade: N/A

Carey played in exactly one defensive snap, but that’s not what he was on the roster for anyways. Carey was, as always, a key component of the Lions’ punt and kick coverage teams. The Lions ended up 12th in kickoff coverage yards per kick (20.4) and 17th in punt coverage.

Carey’s nine special teams tackles was second-most on the team, only trailing linebacker Steve Longa (according to

Outlook for 2018

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent

Don Carey turns 31 in a couple weeks, but his special teams value hasn’t really diminished. It’s uncanny for a player to make an eight-year career out of mostly special teams contributions, but there’s a reason why he’s published a book called “It’s Not Because I’m Better Than You.”

We’ll see if Matt Patricia values special teams as much as his predecessors, but if the Lions don’t offer Carey a contract, he still has value in this league.


Should the Lions re-sign Don Carey?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    (363 votes)
  • 19%
    (87 votes)
450 votes total Vote Now

Previously: DE Dwight Freeney, LB Tahir Whitehead , DE Ezekiel Ansah, S Tavon Wilson, CB Nevin Lawson, LS Don Muhlbach, LB Paul Worrilow, WR TJ Jones, TE Darren Fells, OT Greg Robinson, DT Jordan Hill, CB DJ Hayden

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