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Lions CB Darryl Roberts, DE Julian Okwara return to practice

The Lions could be getting some reinforcements on defense soon.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports

Though the Detroit Lions defense took a critical hit this week with the placements of defensive tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback Desmond Trufant on injured reserve, it appears they may have a couple key pieces coming back as soon as this week.

The Lions announced on Wednesday that cornerback Darryl Roberts and rookie defensive end Julian Okwara—both of whom remain on injured reserve—will be practicing starting on Wednesday. This opens up a three-week window in which either (or both) players can return to the 53-man roster at any time and play.

For Roberts, the Lions may need him sooner rather than later. At the moment, only Amani Oruwariye and Justin Coleman are healthy at cornerback, as Jeff Okudah continues to miss practice with a shoulder injury, and it’s unclear how far in concussion protocol Mike Ford has progressed. Roberts hasn’t played in four games, but he was one of Detroit’s better reserve corners when called upon. For the season he has three passes defended and an interception in seven game appearances, but just one start.

Okwara’s return would also be welcome for a team that hasn’t been able to produce much pass rush all season. The Lions’ third-round pick was just starting to get significant playing time in Week 6 before suffering a leg injury against the Jaguars. In total, he’s played in just 30 defensive snaps, so he remains a relatively unknown commodity.

At this point, it’s unclear how close either of these players are to returning, but with only five games left in the season—and with a roster desperate for healthy players—expect the Lions to activate them sooner rather than later.

Here’s a full list of Detroit’s transactions from Wednesday:

Moved to IR

  • DT Danny Shelton
  • CB Desmond Trufant

Activated from practice squad

  • DT Kevin Strong

Activated from IR

  • TE Hunter Bryant

Returned to practice (still on IR)

  • DE Julian Okwara
  • CB Darryl Roberts

Signed to practice squad

  • CB Alex Myers