The Detroit Lions announced on Wednesday morning that third-round rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu will return to practice this week, along with cornerback/returner Corey Ballentine.
Melifonwu suffered a thigh injury in the Lions’ Week 2 contest against the Green Bay Packers and was placed on injured reserve. Combined with Jeff Okudah’s Week 1 Achilles tear, the Lions were left shorthanded at the cornerback position and have been scrambling to find replacements since then. Though undrafted rookie Jerry Jacobs and AJ Parker have performed admirably in their place, getting Melifonwu back would not only help the Lions this year but getting the rookie some playing time down the stretch will help his development.
By returning to practice, both Melifonwu and Ballentine will start their 21-day clocks in which Detroit must decide whether to activate them to the 53-man roster or sit them for the rest of the year.
Starting the clock appears to be a positive development in Melfionwu’s recovery. The last time head coach Dan Campbell addressed his injury, it wasn’t clear when he would return this season.
“He is progressing. He is getting better. He is getting better,” Campbell said a couple weeks ago. “I wish I could give you a timeline, but I do feel like we can get him to return before the season’s out. I feel that way and I’m not a doctor, so don’t hold that on me.”
Additionally, the Lions announced that wide receiver Tom Kennedy has been signed to the team’s practice squad. Kennedy was waived earlier in the week after Detroit opted to sign both tight end Brock Wright and safety Jalen Elliott to the 53-man roster. With Kennedy’s signing, the Lions’ 16-man practice squad is full, as is their 53-man roster.