The Detroit Lions announced on Thursday afternoon that they’ve activated cornerback/return specialist Corey Ballentine from injured reserve.
That puts Ballentine back on the 53-man roster after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings. He takes up the roster spot left by the waiving of wide receiver Geronimo Allison, who was added back to the practice squad on Thursday.
The Lions claimed Ballentine off waivers one week into the season to help out on special teams. Shortly after the move, Ballentine became a four-way special teamer, working on both the return and coverage duties for punts and kickoffs. In Week 4, he took over as the team’s kick return man, fielding four kickoffs for an average of 23.5 yards per return.
Ballentine was given the job because the previous kick returner—safety-turned-running back Godwin Igwebuike—was having issues fielding kickoffs through the first couple of weeks.
It will be interesting to see how Ballentine fits into the picture now because Igwebuike has reassumed kick return duties and has looked much improved. In the past two weeks, Igwebuike has fielded nine kicks for a 27.6 return average.
“He came out early, had trouble fielding balls early on a little bit, and just continued to work on it and develop,” special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said of Igwebuike on Thursday. “I give him all the credit in the world for really working hard at it. He’s very conscientious. This game’s really important to him, the team is really important to him. He’ll do anything for them.”
Ballentine also gives the Lions a little depth at cornerback, which could be needed with Mark Gilbert dealing with an illness. Ballentine has the ability to play both the outside and nickel corner positions.
In addition to the activation of Ballentine, the Lions also announced they have waived practice squad cornerback Parnell Motley, leaving a vacant spot on the 16-man squad.