The Detroit Lions’ already thin defensive line took a hit Tuesday when rookie Jashon Cornell suffered what coach Matt Patricia called a “pretty serious” leg injury.
Cornell, a seventh-round pick out of Ohio State, injured his left Achilles tendon during a one-on-one pass-rushing drill near the end of practice. He screamed in pain as he fell to the ground while making a move on guard Kenny Wiggins.
Trainers spent a few minutes examining Cornell’s ankle and calf, and Cornell had to be helped to his feet and carted off the field.
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“We’re getting with the doctors now to figure out exactly what that looks like but that was a pretty severe injury from that standpoint,” Patricia said. “He was in a lot of pain. He was down for a while. Unfortunate that, that happened in that particular part of practice.”
The Lions entered the padded portion of training camp short-handed on the defensive line after John Atkins opted out of the season because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and with second-year defensive tackle Kevin Strong battling an undisclosed injury.
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Strong missed his second straight practice Tuesday, but worked on the side with trainers.
Cornell, who had a career-high four sacks last season for the Buckeyes, was expected to compete for a backup spot on the interior of the defensive line this fall.
Trey Flowers, Danny Shelton and Nick Williams project as starters, with Da’Shawn Hand and Romeo Okwara playing key backup roles.
Last year, the Lions dealt with a rash of injuries on their defensive line, many of which started in training camp and carried into the regular season.
With Cornell likely out for an extended period of time, the Lions will have to make a move at the defensive-line spot.
Patricia said the team has been preparing its ready list, though it might not be able to sign someone immediately given the NFL’s coronavirus protocols.
The Lions worked out defensive tackle Josh Avery earlier this week.
Kerryon Johnson was a limited participant in practice Tuesday, a scheduled off day after knee injuries interrupted the running back’s season each of the last two years.
“Trying to do everything we can to just (keep him healthy for the season),” Patricia said. “I thought he practiced really hard (Monday), I thought he had some really nice runs and kind of he’s been doing some great work so certainly with the player day off (Wednesday), just trying to maximize as much time as possible with the rest so that we can hit it when we get back.”
Johnson led the Lions with 403 yards rushing and three touchdowns last season, but missed eight games with a knee injury. In 2018, he was limited to 10 games with a knee injury.
He’s expected to split time with rookie second-round pick D’Andre Swift this fall.
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