The Detroit Lions are coming off their first win of the 2021 season, but a wave of illnesses and injuries have rocked this roster.
On Thursday, 21 of the Lions’ 53 players were held out of practice in an attempt to slow the flu spread. That includes five players who were out due to injury, and to make matters even worse, the team announced they were placing defensive back Bobby Price on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
If Price is unvaccinated, he will miss, at a minimum, the next 10 days. But if he is vaccinated, he will need two consecutive negative COVID-19 results separated by a 24 hour period. By showing up on the list this late in the week, Price is very much in danger of missing this week’s game—if not the next as well.
If Price is unable to play, Ifeatu Melifonwu will likely take over his starting gunner duties, as he did last week when Price missed the game against the Vikings with a shoulder injury—which is also apparently still an issue, as he was listed on the injury report earlier in the week with it.
Price isn’t the only Lions player on the reserve/COVID-19 list at this time, as center Evan Brown was placed there on Monday. Neither roster spot has been filled at this time, meaning the Lions are currently operating with only 51 players on their active roster.
Price joined the Lions in 2020 as an undrafted safety and spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad. He was promoted late in that season because of his positive special teams contributions, something that gave him a leg up on other defensive backs heading into 2021.
With a new coaching staff in Detroit, Price’s athleticism continued to shine through as a gunner, but he struggled at safety. Near the end of training camp, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and defensive back coach Aubrey Pleasant made the decision to convert Price from safety to corner and the move paid immediate benefits.
Price looked very natural at outside corner, even starting in Weeks 3 and 4 after starter Jeff Okudah and replacement starter Melifonwu landed on injured reserve. Eventually, Price would lose his starting role on defense—giving way to Jerry Jacobs, who is thriving as a starter—but he showed enough developmental promise to be optimistic bout his future in the NFL.
While Price is developing as a defender, there is no doubting his ability on special teams, where he has secured a starting role in every phase. He has made several key plays on special teams this year—tackles and downed punts—but he will be most remembered this season for his 4th down 17-yard reception on a fake punt conversion in Los Angeles: