As Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell alluded to in his Monday press conference, the team has officially started the 21-day evaluation clock on rookie defensive lineman Josh Paschal and second-year cornerback Jerry Jacobs.
The defensive pair can begin practicing on Wednesday and the team will begin their assessment of determining when they are healthy enough to return to the active roster. During this 21-day window, they are able to participate in practices, but both players are still technically on the reserve/PUP list and therefore do not count against the team’s 53-man allotment. If/when the team wants either player available to play in a game, they would need to place them on the active roster—which they can do at any time during the evaluation window—and the team would be required to make corresponding moves to clear roster space.
Previously, when the Lions have returned players who dealt with injuries that lasted several weeks or more—such as Julian Okwara and Ifeatu Melifonwu—the re-acclimation process has taken three weeks. This is not a written rule, but more of a cautious approach to make sure the player is fully ready to return.
With regard to Paschal, this timeline seems like a probable scenario.
“We’re probably going to start his clock this week,” Campbell said of Paschal on the radio earlier this week. “Now, it’ll be two or three weeks before he could be ready to play, but that’ll certainly help,”
Jacobs could be a different story but it’s too early to tell. He was cleared to practice a week ago and was someone they considered not placing on the reserve/PUP at all. But as Campbell mentioned in late August, even if Jacobs is cleared, he could take several weeks to acclimate before he is ready to contribute.
Therefore, this move is a positive sign that Paschal and Jacobs are on their way to contributing. They likely won’t be ready to play this week against the Patriots, but a possible return after the bye week to face the Cowboys could be possible, or maybe a week after that when the Dolphins come to town.