In early November, Detroit Lions defensive lineman Jashon Cornell was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list. On Wednesday, the team announced that Cornell had begun practicing again, and like with the players who return from injured reserve, he will begin a 21-day evaluation period.
Over the next 21 calendar days, Cornell is able to practice with the team as if he were a member of the active roster, even though he still technically does not count against their 53-player roster. Cornell is eligible to be activated at any time during the 21-day period, but if he is not ready to return by the time the clock runs out, they can either place him back on the reserve list (ending his season) or release him from his contract.
It’s not clear the reasoning Cornell originally landed on the reserve/non-football illness list, but it’s worth recognizing that the organization has made a strong effort this past offseason to account for players well being both on and off the field.
In addition to expanding their Player Performance division for on-field activities, the Lions also expanded their Player Wellness division, which is run by co-directors Sean Pugh and Jessica Gray (who was recently featured on Lions’ Women in Football series, where she was interviewed by Dannie Rogers). They also hired a Mental Skills Specialist/Clinician, Dr. Michelle Garvin, as a proactive measure for players.
Cornell’s two years with the Lions have been full of challenges. He tore his Achillies tendon days into training camp during his rookie season and missed the season. While rehabbing the injury, he was arrested and convicted of fourth-degree driving while impaired in Minnesota (per Detroit News’ Justin Rogers) and was subsequently suspended for the first three games of the 2021 season.
“I was informed today by the NFL that I would have to miss the first 3 games of the season. Last year after losing a dear friend of mine I made a mistake that was out of my character. I have owned it and worked on learning from it,” Cornell tweeted. “Since then I have grown as a person and now a better man. With that being said I apologize to the Lions organization and the fans. I have learned from my mishap.”
Cornell has only played in one game this season, Week 7 against the Los Angeles Rams, but he only saw four special teams snaps. If he is able to return, he will likely become DL6 in the Lions rotation.