After sending wide receiver DJ Chark and defensive back Bobby Price to injured reserve, the Detroit Lions have filled their roster spots with two players coming off injury. Defensive lineman Josh Paschal and cornerback Jerry Jacobs have been activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list and are now eligible to make their season debuts against the Dallas Cowboys.
For Paschal, this is a potential NFL debut, as the Lions’ second-round pick hasn’t even played in an NFL preseason game yet. Paschal, along with the likely return of defensive lineman John Cominsky, should give Detroit a little more versatility on the defensive line—something that Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn hopes will result in more pass rush.
“Cominsky will be back, Paschal will be ready,” Glenn said this week. “Being able to use Aidan (Hutchinson) in other spots, allowing him to have some freedom to do some things also. And then, always man, we’re trying to scheme up our guys for the best matchup. As long as we can continue to do that, as long as we continue to utilize each player in that magnitude, I think those things will always help us.”
As for Jacobs, it will be interesting to see where Detroit’s reserve cornerback fits into the Lions’ ever-evolving secondary. Last game, the Lions opted to bench starter Amani Oruwariye in favor of Will Harris, but then Harris and his backup—Price—suffered injuries, leaving the Lions depleted and desperate at the position. Harris is questionable to play in this game, while Price won’t be available for at least the next four games.
So that gives Jacobs the opportunity to potentially even challenge for a starting spot right away. Last year, as an undrafted rookie, Jacobs ended up fitting into a starting job after injuries forced him into the lineup, and he played surprisingly well. In nine starts (13 games appearances), Jacobs tallied seven passes defended, a forced fumble, and a 65.8 PFF grade.
At this point, it isn’t clear if Oruwariye, Harris, or Jacobs is in line for the starting cornerback job opposite Jeff Okudah against the Cowboys, but even if it isn’t Jacobs, coach Dan Campbell believes he’ll be a valuable player to have available on Sunday.
“The good news about Jerry is, man, when he’s physically ready, you know you can take him to the game because he’s going to help on special teams immediately,” Campbell said last week. “And so now you’ve got him to the game, and now you sprinkle him in outside or maybe we do feel good at nickel. But look, he brings value to the roster at a minimum just to have on gameday because he does so many things.”
In addition to these moves, the Lions will also have three practice squad players available for Sunday’s game: WR Maurice Alexander, WR Brandon Zylstra, and K Michael Badgley.
Alexander has been signed to the 53-man roster after being waived going into the bye—essentially filling the roster spot left by his own release. His addition is drastically needed for Detroit after the team has sent Chark and Quintez Cephus to injured reserve in the past couple of weeks. With Josh Reynolds questionable to play, the Lions need all hands on deck with their receiver depth right now.
Zylstra should help, too. Brother of Lions tight end Shane Zylstra, Brandon was added to the practice squad just a few weeks ago. He had previously spent the last three seasons with the Carolina Panthers, making 37 game appearances and accumulating 29 catches for 391 yards and a touchdown over that time. He was also a key factor on their special teams unit, something that he may do for Detroit this Sunday.
Finally, with the Lions elevating Badgley—the second of three elevations for the season—Detroit has their kicker for this week. The Lions also have recently-added kicker Sam Ficken to their practice squad but Badgley won the competition in practice. For his career, Badgley is 74-of-91 (81.3%) accurate on field goals with a long of 59. However, against the Patriots, Badgley did not attempt a single kick, with Campbell infamously passing on a 50-yard attempt to go for it on a fourth-and-9.
To recap all of Saturday’s roster moves:
Moved to injured reserve:
- WR DJ Chark
- DB Bobby Price
Activated from PUP
- CB Jerry Jacobs
- DL Josh Paschal
Signed from practice to 53-man roster
- WR Maurice Alexander
Temporary elevation from the practice squad
- WR Brandon Zylstra
- K Michael Badgley