During Wednesday’s practice, there was an unfamiliar presence near the Detroit Lions secondary. It took a while for the media to realize what was happening, but it was Jerry Jacobs running at a full pace with a trainer out on the field.
Jacobs suffered a torn ACL back in December in the midst of a promising rookie season. He not only beat the odds by making the team as an undrafted free agent but he was promoted to a starting role after the injury bug hit the cornerback room. He played at a decent level, earning a 66.7 PFF coverage over nine starts.
Jacobs was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the beginning of camp and has stayed there into the regular season. NFL rules mandate that Jacobs must miss the first four games of the season, but the young cornerback told MLive’s Kyle Meinke that he has been cleared to practice next week—the first week he’s eligible.
“I feel good,” Jacobs said. “Right now I’m, what, nine months out? I’m backpedaling, doing all the DB drills. Next week going to start back practicing, so going to get back in there (for) conditioning. Feel great, bro. I’m ready to go.”
Of course, returning to practice doesn’t necessarily mean returning to the game. The Lions have taken a slow approach in returning players from injury, and given that Jacobs hasn’t practiced since December, it seems unlikely he’ll play in Week 5’s game against the New England Patriots. However, with the Lions’ bye falling in Week 6, it’s certainly possible Jacobs would be available to play the following week against the Dallas Cowboys.
Where Jacobs will play is another story entirely. The Lions seem comfortable with their top-two outside cornerbacks. Jeff Okudah is currently playing at a high level, and despite a rough game against the Vikings, the team is still comfortable with Amani Oruwariye on the other side.
“Not concerned at all,” defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said of Oruwariye. “Because that hasn’t been consistent with this player.”
Jacobs could factor into the team’s competition at nickel, where Mike Hughes has struggled a bit early. Last year, coach Dan Campbell said nickel corner was a position Jacobs was capable of playing.
When asked who could play nickel if AJ Parker is out, Dan Campbell said, "I think Jerry (Jacobs) can do some of that."— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) October 27, 2021
Then kind of tightened up and said we were trying to get too much of their game plan.
Either way, Jacobs will be welcomed back as depth to a position that doesn’t currently have a lot of it.