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Detroit Lions invite XFL Special Teams Player of the Year to rookie minicamp tryout

The Detroit Lions are bringing in XFL special teams standout Darrius Shepherd in for a tryout at rookie minicamp.

St Louis Battlehawks v DC Defenders Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

According to a press release from the XFL, the Detroit Lions are bringing in St. Louis Battlehawks wide receiver Darrius Shepherd in for a tryout at their rookie minicamp next week.

Shepherd, 27, went undrafted in 2019 and spent the first two years of his career with the Green Bay Packers. While he was mostly on the practice squad over those two seasons, he did make 14 game appearances—mainly as a kick returner—and even recorded his first NFL catch against the Detroit Lions, albeit just for a single yard.

Since those two years, Shepherd has bounced around on several teams’ practice squads, before eventually getting drafted by the Battlehawks this past November. He’s found a good amount of success in the XFL, ranking fourth in the league in receptions (48), seventh in receiving yards (519), and tied for second in touchdowns (6) for the 2023 season. He’s also been an effective kick returner, averaging an impressive 24.5 yards per return on 37 attempts. In fact, he was just named XFL’s Special Teams Player of the Year.

Shepherd is 5-foot-10, 186 pounds with just average speed for the position. However, the Lions do have a pretty significant need for a kick returner. Last year, it was mostly Justin Jackson’s job, but the running back currently remains a free agent, and there is no obvious replacement for him on the current roster.

As an extra note, there were previous reports the Lions were also going to bring in XFL kicker John Parker Romo of the San Antonio Brahmas in for a tryout, but he was not included in the list of tryouts provided by the XFL. It’s unclear if he’ll be there in Allen Park next week, but it’s worth noting that Romo appears to have confirmed the news on social media.

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