Detroit Lions rookies report to training camp on Saturday, but before the players rain down on Allen Park, the front office has decided to add one more player to the competition. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Lions are preparing to sign former Steelers defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs.
Buggs is a former sixth-round pick with three years of experience in the NFL. He has made 29 game appearances and started six games for the Steelers last season, earning a 59.1 PFF grade on 227 defensive snaps, with 168 of them coming at nose tackle.
At 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, Buggs is a true interior defender who will likely take John Pensini’s spot on the roster. Penisini announced his sudden retirement back in June, but it has not yet been made official, keeping Detroit’s roster count at the maximum amount of 90 players.
UPDATE: The Lions made the Buggs signing and Penisini’s retirement official on Friday evening
Buggs is a strong, powerful player who was a two-year starter for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He took a huge jump in his senior season, tallying 13.5 tackles for loss, including 9.5 sacks, playing mostly on the edge. His time in Pittsburgh was mixed. He flashed technical talent and made several big plays in big moments but was also inconsistent in his ability to hold his ground like he did at Alabama.
Two huge plays by Isaiah Buggs late in the game. Got washed out early, but you gotta love the way to bounce back and make these plays. Without him, the Steelers don't win today's game down the stretch. pic.twitter.com/Bcx970B12K— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 2, 2020
That sort of versatility could give him a leg up, as he’ll have to battle the likes of Jashon Cornell, Bruce Hector, and Demetrius Taylor for a roster spot or two. You can read more about the defensive tackle camp battles ahead in our 2022 Detroit Lions training camp preview.