According to NFL insider Aaron Wilson, the Detroit Lions are working out center Jake Lacina.
The news comes off the heels of Ross Pierschbacher suffering an injury in the Lions’ preseason opener against the New York Giants. Pierschbacher got the start to the game—and has been mostly repping with the second-team offense in practice—but third-stringer Brad Cecil was forced into the lineup for the rest of the game. It’s unclear how serious Pierschbacher’s injury is.
Lacina is an interesting prospect. At Augustana College—a D2 school—Lacina was a four-year starter and was named college football’s best center in 2019, his senior year. He went undrafted in 2020, signed with the Minnesota Vikings, but didn’t make the final roster.
Since then, Lacina has played in both seasons of the USFL revival. In 2022, Lacina was drafted in the 20th round of the inaugural USFL draft by the New Jersey Generals—making him the first center selected in the draft.
In this most recent season, Lacina thrived for the Generals. He was named All-USFL after the team led the league with 134.2 rushing yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry.
Introducing the 2023 All-USFL Team offense— USFL (@USFL) June 21, 2023
Which player on this list was your favorite to watch? pic.twitter.com/hGEBf5vf8L
Lions coach Dan Campbell recently noted how a couple years of development in a league like the USFL can be critical to finding NFL talent.
“I think it’s the development to be able to play and then find this talent and bring them in and now let’s see if they can play at this level against this competition,” Campbell said. “I think it’s huge. It’s big. Because ultimately, you can try to develop (in the NFL), you can do all these things, but if you can’t play the game and get reps after reps of real-time game, it’s hard to accelerate it.”
Prior to Friday’s preseason game, the Lions waived Logan Stenberg, a former fourth-round pick who had played a little center and guard for the team. He was claimed by the Chicago Bears shortly thereafter.
The Lions have an open roster spot after waiving cornerback Tae Hayes on Saturday. We’ll see if Lacina is the one to assume that spot.