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2 Detroit Lions on IR returning to practice, team makes decision on Hendon Hooker

The Detroit Lions plan on returning both C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Jason Cabinda to practice this week. Meanwhile, they plan on making room for Hendon Hooker on the 53-man roster.

NFLPA Rookie Premiere Portrait Session Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Dan Campbell announced on Monday a few critical roster moves that could have big impacts on the Detroit Lions. Per Campbell, the team is planning to return both defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson and fullback Jason Cabinda to practice after each has spent a significant amount of time on injured reserve. Additionally, with rookie quarterback Hendon Hooker’s 21-day evaluation period up, the team is planning to sign him to the 53-man roster.

Gardner-Johnson’s return was more-or-less announced last week when Campbell confirmed that the veteran safety had been medically cleared to practice after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in Week 2. His return should help out a Lions defense that has struggled immensely stopping opposing quarterbacks. Detroit’s pass defense currently ranks 23rd in passer rating allowed and yards per attempt.

Without Cabinda, the Lions have relied on a rotating cast of characters at fullback. Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, as well as both tight ends Sam LaPorta and Brock Wright, have filled in for limited snaps in the backfield in Cabinda’s absence. The Lions fullback has been out since Week 3.

While both Cabinda and Gardner-Johnson will return to practice this week, they will not count against the 53-man roster immediately. Their 21-day evaluation clock will begin on the day of their first practice. Starting then, they are eligible to be promoted to the 53-man roster at any time. However, they cannot play in a game until they receive that promotion.

Speaking of which, Hooker’s promotion to the 53-man will reportedly be coming this week.

“I think we’re going to try to get Hooker on the roster,” Campbell said Monday.

That doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given how much the team wants to develop their rookie quarterback. Hooker has had just three weeks of practice since returning from a torn ACL he suffered last November. The Lions’ only alternatives this week were to shut Hooker down for the rest of the year or cut him.

The tricky part for the Lions is that they’ll need to create a roster spot for Hooker. That corresponding move likely won’t come until Wednesday. But with the potential return of Gardner-Johnson, Alim McNeill, Cabinda, and James Houston—not to mention a potential signing of Bruce Irvin from the practice squad—the Lions will suddenly need to create a significant amount of roster room over the next month.

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