The Detroit Lions continue to build out their 16-man practice squad for the 2023 season. While many of the additions are likely to be internal signings from players they just cut, there have already been two notable additions from outside their training camp squad. The Lions are signing former Jets running back Zonovan Knight (per his agent) and former Lions kicker Michael Badgley (per Dave Birkett) to the practice squad.
Knight was pushed off the Jets roster after their recent addition of former Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. With three other recent draft picks on the roster (Breece Hall, Michael Carter, and Israel Abanikanda), there was no room for Knight.
But Knight—who went undrafted last year—proved to be a valuable resource to the Jets last year after Hall went down with an injury. He played in seven games, started four, and tallied 300 rushing yards on 85 carries in addition to 13 catches for 100 yards.
“Good player. Good player, good runner,” Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said of Knight prior to Detroit’s Week 15 matchup with the Jets. “The thing is I’ve been told by other coaches around this league that’s played against that team that he’s a really tough runner, so we understand exactly who he is.”
It’s also worth noting that Knight has college experience returning kicks. At NC State, he returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in his final two seasons, averaging an impressive 30.8 yards per return. The Lions’ kick return job is still wide open.
The Lions only kept two true running backs on their 53-man roster, and now Knight enters the competition to potentially be RB3. Although, as we explained on Tuesday night, it’s entirely possible that Craig Reynolds returns to the roster after being released on Tuesday, as the Lions may have to do some roster maneuvering due to injury.
As for Badgley, he’s obviously a familiar name. Detroit cut him at the start of training camp, opting to make the competition between Riley Patterson and Parker Romo. At the time, coach Dan Campbell said the reasoning was Patterson and Badgley were very similar, and they wanted to see what Romo could do.
“It was hard to let Badgley go. That was tough,” Campbell said. “I have a lot of respect for Badge, but you know, we wanted to give another look at Patterson. We feel like they’re very similar type players, Badgley and Patterson. We’ll get a look at Patterson. We like Romo. He’s kind of the wild card. He has the big leg.”
Patterson was the clear favorite over Romo in camp, but his preseason ended on a sour note, coming up short on a 53-yard field goal and missing an extra point. Bringing in Badgley is a clear sign that this kicker competition will continue into the season.
To see where the Lions’ practice squad currently stands, check out our tracker here.