The Detroit Lions nose tackle position has seen some turnover recently. Less than a week ago, Joel Heath tore his ACL in OTAs and was placed on injured reserve. Then the Lions signed Brian Price on Tuesday, and Wednesday evening the Lions announced that they have waived John Atkins.
Atkins was undrafted out of Georgia in 2018 and signed with the New England Patriots, but was released at cut downs. The Lions picked him up and signed him to their practice squad, and he was able to contribute in two games that season. In 2019, Atkins saw action in 12 games, starting six in place of an injured Damon Harrison. In 2020, Atkins opted to sit out the season due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. He has 22 career tackles, all with the Lions.
After spending two seasons as the Lions' top reserve at nose tackle, Atkins looked to be a potential every week contributor. But after the Lions drafted John Penisini last season, and the new regime drafted Alim McNeill in this past draft, the road looked difficult for Atkins to crack the roster as he was passed on the depth chart.
The potential is there for Atkins to find another spot in the NFL and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he landed on one of the teams who run a two-gapping scheme, similar to the Patriots.
The Lions now have 89 players signed to their active roster, with one spot open for a potential free agent signing.