Detroit Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye is the latest Lions defensive back to see his season come to an early end. On Saturday, the team placed him on injured reserve, and with only three games remaining on the schedule, that means Oruwariye’s season is over.
Oruwariye suffered a thumb injury in the final drive of Detroit’s 30-12 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals last week. Head coach Dan Campbell said on Friday that he wasn’t sure if the injury would require surgery, but he did suggest it could be a serious injury.
“It’s kinda the ligament and the bone as well, but we’ll see,” Campbell said. “I would say, look, it’s probably not looking great, but we’re still hopeful.”
It’s been a breakout year for the third-year cornerback. Oruwariye came into the season with only three interceptions and 10 pass breakups in his career. This year, he outgained both with six interceptions and 11 pass breakups. Many considered him a Pro Bowl snub, as only two cornerbacks (Cowboys’ Trevon Diggs and Patriots’ J.C. Jackson) currently have more interceptions than Oruwariye.
The Lions’ cornerback room has now been completely decimated from the beginning of the year. On top of Oruwariye, the Lions have already lost Jeff Okudah and Jerry Jacobs for the season. Rookie third-round pick Ifeatu Melifonwu spent seven weeks on injured reserve in the middle of the season. AJ Parker was on IR for three games. That’s not to mention the flu and COVID-19 virus that ravaged the secondary for the past three weeks.
For the rest of the season, the Lions will likely have to turn to Melifonwu as one of the starting outside cornerbacks and safety Will Harris as the other. Harris was tested at the outside cornerback position for the first time in his NFL career last week, and Campbell was impressed by his performance.
“I just thought he went in there and battled,” Campbell said back on Monday. “I think it was a perfect game plan for him and the fact that he was open to it, it allowed him to play with his athletic ability and cut it loose and play aggressive and he did that.”
Detroit also has cornerbacks Mark Gilbert, Bobby Price, and Saivion Smith available, if needed.
The Lions also announced that they have activated these three players from the practice squad as reserve/COVID-19 replacements:
- TE Shane Zylstra
- LB Tavante Beckett
- LB Curtis Bolton
All three of the players above are now eligible to play in Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Detroit currently has three players from the 53-man roster on reserve/COVID: quarterback Jared Goff, offensive linemen Matt Nelson, and wide receiver Trinity Benson. As of Saturday, none of those three have cleared COVID protocol. Thusly, the Lions are able to elevate three players from the practice squad without burning one of their two standard elevations allowed per season.
That also means the three players still on reserve/COVID—including starting quarterback Jared Goff—will not play this week against the Falcons, a team source confirmed. The Lions are expected to turn to backup quarterback Tim Boyle as Goff’s replacement this week.
Boyle started one game for the Lions earlier this season but only managed to throw for 77 yards and was picked off twice in a rainy game. Boyle had also just recently returned from injured reserve.
With more practices under his belt and better conditions expected for Sunday, Campbell is hopeful for a much better performance from Boyle this week.
“I expect to get a guy who’s gonna be able to function in our offense,” Campbell said on Friday. “He’ll be able to move the ball. He’ll be a general for us out there. He’s gonna get us in the right play. He’ll make the right decision. That’s what I expect. I feel very confident in that.”