On Wednesday, Detroit Lions safety Jalen Elliott was listed on the team’s injury report as a non-participant for non-injury-related purposes. On Thursday, they placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Unbelievably, this is Elliot’s third time (!) on the reserve/COVID-19 list in the past two seasons. He was first added in July of 2020, then again that November, and now a tick over a year later.
With center Evan Brown being removed from the list earlier in the week, it looked like the Lions were headed in the right direction and possibly had a hold on the spread of the virus. Elliott’s addition to the list re-raises concerns and brings the total player count of players on the list back up to nine:
- RB Jamaal Williams
- LB Tavante Beckett
- CB Bobby Price
- CB Ifeatu Melifonwu
- CB Mark Gilbert
- NB Corey Ballentine - added on Tuesday
- NB Robey-Coleman - added on Monday
- S Tracy Walker
- S Jalen Elliott
As you can see, most of the players on this list are members of the Lions’ secondary. With limited players available, the Lions needed to shift players around their secondary last week and Elliott was inserted into the starting lineup, as Will Harris was needed at nickel.
Fortunately, the Lions starting nickel AJ Parker (on injured reserve) has begun practicing this week and is expected to be active and start on Sunday. That would allow Harris to return to his natural safety position and soften the blow of losing Elliott.
While the Lions have a clear hierarchy of available players at safety—Harris and Dean Marlowe are expected to start with Walker still out— but they still have major questions at corner, both in the starting lineup and depth.
It’s possible the Lions could return some secondary players from the reserve/COVID-19 list ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, but until that happens, it’s next player up.
“Play the next guy whoever that may be,” Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn told the media on Thursday. “If it’s somebody we just signed or (Parnell) Motley that’s been here for a while, we just try to figure it out and try to put a guy out there. The thing is, we have bodies. Just the fact that we’ve all got to make sure the communication and all of that comes together with the new guys there. That’s usually the issue when you do have new guys come in.”
Stay tuned. This seems far from over.