The Detroit Lions are continuing to make necessary personnel changes in their secondary due to the spread of COVID-19 throughout the defensive backs room. Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman is the latest Lions player to be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the ninth Lions player in the last week, and the sixth member of Detroit’s secondary.
Robey-Coleman, who is currently on the Lions’ practice squad, was elevated to the active roster for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos. After Jerry Jacobs suffered a serious ACL injury in the first quarter, Robey-Coleman jumped into the lineup as the team’s No. 2 cornerback alongside Amani Oruwariye.
To give you a sense of how depleted this secondary is right now, here are all the Lions defensive backs who are currently unavailable:
- Bobby Price (COVID)
- Tracy Walker (COVID)
- Ifeatu Melifonwu (COVID)
- Mark Gilbert (COVID)
- Corey Ballentine (COVID)
- Nickell Robey-Coleman (COVID)
- Jeff Okudah (IR)
- AJ Parker (IR)
- Jerry Jacobs (IR)
To help an ailing group, the Lions added three cornerbacks on Tuesday. They claimed former 49ers cornerback Saivion Smith off of waivers and signed cornerbacks Shakur Brown and Chris Williamson to the practice squad.
Smith went undrafted out of Alabama in 2019 and has since jumped on rosters of five different NFL teams: the Jaguars, Cowboys, Seahawks, Broncos, and 49ers. He has made a total of seven game appearances in his NFL career, including one start for the Cowboys in 2020. At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Smith fits the current trend of a tall, long cornerback that brings some speed, too. Smith was promoted from the 49ers practice squad to the active roster for Sunday’s win over the Bengals and played in 11 special teams snaps. He was waived on Monday.
Playing his college ball at Alabama exposed him to a variety of coverages, and when combined with his height/weight/speed ratio, he has appealing upside. While he is still developing NFL skills on defense, his tackling prowess makes him an immediate contributor on special teams when active.
As for the two practice squad additions, you may remember Brown from an earlier stint on the practice squad. The former Michigan State Spartan spent two weeks with Detroit after Corey Ballentine went on injured reserve.
Williamson, on the other hand, is new to the Lions. Williamson was a seventh-round pick for the New York Giants last year, but he spent most of the year on the practice squad before being waived by the end of the season. He was picked up by the Falcons, and has spent most of 2021 on their practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster for five weeks and even got one start for the Falcons. In 55 defensive snaps this year, he has allowed four catches on five targets for 43 yards and a touchdown, per PFF.