According to a report from NFL insider Aaron Wilson, the Detroit Lions are signing cornerback Craig James to their practice squad. The Lions have not confirmed this move, and at the time of this publishing, there is no reported corresponding move. That will be required, as the Lions are currently at their maximum of 16 players on the practice squad.
James was an undrafted prospect in 2018 but has since hung around the NFL on three different teams. He spent most of his rookie season on the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad before making three late-season appearances on special teams. After getting cut the following year, the Philadelphia Eagles would swoop him up, where he would play for current Lions special teams coach Dave Fipp.
He would stay in Philly for the next three seasons, playing in a total of 18 games with one start. In 2019, he was a key special teamer for the Eagles under Fipp’s guidance, logging a total of 237 snaps—fifth-most on the team.
He was often used as a gunner for the Eagles, which is particularly relevant for the Lions. Last week, the Lions demoted Jerry Jacobs to a special teams role, and coach Dan Campbell raved about his particular skills as a gunner.
“Now we get Jerry back on teams as well, because Jerry’s a good special teams player now, as a gunner and a jammer,” Campbell said.
Unfortunately for Jacobs, he suffered an injury against the Denver Broncos, and while the severity is unknown, he did not practice Wednesday. The Lions’ interest in James—and two other cornerbacks the Lions brought in for a visit this week—doesn’t bode well for Jacobs’ status.
James also has some experience on defense. In fact, earlier this year, he stepped into a significant role for the New York Jets, playing 41 snaps in a 20-14 win over the Eagles. In that game, he did not allow a completion, notched a pass breakup, and earned a 78.9 overall PFF grade.
We’ll update this post when the signing becomes official and a corresponding move is announced.
UPDATE: Lions release OT Michael Schofield in a corresponding move.