As the Detroit Lions begin Week 3 of training camp, linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin is finally ready to join his teammates as the team announced that he had been removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Reeves-Maybin re-signed with the Lions this offseason on a one-year deal, taking advantage of a new CBA rule that rewards teams for re-signing veterans that have been with the organization for the first four years of their NFL careers.
Beyond the financial benefits for the Lions and Reeves-Maybin, the new defensive scheme is also a much better fit than the previous one. A long-time special teams weapon, Reeves-Maybin looked highly suited to play in the new defense—one that prefers athletic linebackers—and in theory should provide him the opportunity to expand his role with the team.
Unfortunately, the reserve/COVID-19 designation at the beginning of training camp has really set Reeves-Maybin back. While he has been unable to practice, we have seen others elevate their games and push—if not pass—him on the depth chart.
At linebacker, Shaun Dion Hamilton has stepped into a key role with the second-team defense and is the likely front-runner for ILB5, a spot that was previously believed to be slated for Reeves-Maybin. Additionally, third-year linebacker Anthony Pittman has flashed recently, and his ability to play inside, as well as cover and pass rush, makes him a sleeper name to watch for the 53-man roster.
On special teams, Reeves-Maybin has been a steady rock of production over the years and it could be his best path to the roster. But there are only so many special teams-first players a roster can handle, and right now safeties C.J. Moore and Bobby Price—likely S4 and S5, respectively—are believed to have the inside track for two of those spots.
The Lions' first game of the preseason is just a few days away (Friday, August 13), and with even fewer practices to acclimate, how quickly can he get up to speed? With one fewer preseason game on the schedule this offseason as well, Reeves-Maybin can’t waste any time and needs to make an impression on coaches.
In addition to activating Reeves-Maybin, the Lions made two more roster moves. They signed wide receiver Darius Jennings and waived center Drake Jackson.
Jennings joins a receiver squad that is currently beat up. During Saturday’s scrimmage, four wide receivers were out: Tyrell Williams (groin), Breshad Perriman (hip), Quintez Cephus (head), and Damion Ratley (no update yet). Jennings has been in the NFL since 2015 and played most recently for the Titans in 2019. He also spent 2020 training camp with the Los Angeles Chargers (under Anthony Lynn). He could figure into the Lions’ return battle, as he returned 22 kickoffs in 2018, setting the Titans’ franchise record for 31.7 yards per return.
Jackson’s waiving is likely the result of Evan Brown returning from the Non-Football Injury list last week.