The Detroit Lions announced on Wednesday that they have placed corner AJ Parker on injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury in Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns.
Parker, an undrafted rookie out of Kansas State, has been the Lions starting nickel corner since the first game of the season. After a rough start to training camp at outside corner, coaches shifted him inside and he has thrived since.
Parker has played in nine games this season registering 35 tackles, three pass deflections and he recorded his first career interception last week as well. He did miss one game earlier this season after injuring his neck against the Los Angeles Rams, but he was able to recover over the Lions bye week.
Unfortunately, because he was placed on injured reserve, this injury will cost him, at a minimum, the next three games, and he won’t be eligible to return to practices/games until after Week 14.
The Lions don't have a clear backup nickel corner on the active roster, and the last time Parker missed a game they deployed Will Harris on double duty. Harris, the Lions starting safety, continued to start at safety, but in nickel situations, they would shift him into the slot and bring on Dean Marlowe or Jalen Elliott to take over the safety role.
It’s not clear if the Lions will adopt this plan moving forward, but it is worth noting that the Lions did not sign or elevate either of their two nickelbacks on the practice squad—Nickel Robey-Coleman or Corey Ballentine. It’s possible they change this strategy moving forward, but for their Thanksgiving game, the lack of roster moves suggests they will turn back to Harris for an expanded role.
Additionally, the Lions have elevated Parker Ehinger to the active roster for their Week 12 matchup against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving.
With Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Matt Nelson ruled out for this week's game, the Lions only had seven healthy offensive linemen on the active roster. The elevation of Ehinger brings them up to eight and will qualify them to expand their game-day roster from 46 to 48 players, as long as all eight are active on Thursday.
Ehinger will report back to the Lions practice squad following the game and will not be subject to waivers. This is his first roster elevation and he will have one more remaining for the remainder of the season.