Last week, the Detroit Lions made a curious roster move. After cutting Devine Ozigbo—a clear sign running back David Montgomery was near ready to return—the Lions filled the roster spot with linebacker Trevor Nowaske, an undrafted rookie who has spent the first two months of the season on the practice squad.
Nowaske made a strong impression on special teams during the preseason, but with the Lions already having six linebackers on the 53-man roster—and four of them regular contributors on special teams—the move seemed a bit curious.
On Monday, coach Dan Campbell explained why the team made the move.
“He was being poached potentially,” Campbell said. “We didn’t want to lose him, and we felt like we had the flexibility to make that move.”
What Campbell means is there was another team that was trying to sign Nowaske from the Lions’ practice squad to their 53-man roster. Oftentimes, when a player has an opportunity to sign to a new team’s roster, they’ll go to their original team and see if they’re interested in promoting them internally, instead. Once promoted to the 53-man roster, no team can poach him.
So what have the Lions seen in Nowaske that convinced them to keep him around?
“We feel like we’re going to need him before it’s all said and done. We like where he’s going,” Campbell said. “He’s another young guy that we’ve got on this roster that’s developing and growing. That’s a good room right now. All seven of those guys, counting him, it’s an outstanding room. Between what they’re able to do defensively (and) special teams, too. We rely on them for a lot. So, yeah, he was a guy that we didn’t want to lose.”
At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Nowaske is a candidate to challenge for depth at the SAM linebacker. At Saginaw Valley State, Nowaske was a strong contributor. In his last two years, he tallied a total of 182 tackles, 19.0 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks, not to mention five interceptions and 10 pass breakups.
If Nowaske cracks the gameday lineup on Sunday, expect him to contribute on special teams before making any defensive appearances.