The Detroit Lions haven’t been good in many areas, but they’ve been solid at covering kicks and punts all season. And part of the reason for that has been the performance of cornerback Tony McRae.
But the team will have to find another way to get it done going forward after McRae suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Vikings.
The injury occurred at the end of the second quarter when McRae was blocking the Vikings gunner on a punt return. He ultimately had to be carted off the field and was ruled out a short time later after being evaluated in the locker room.
A free-agent addition from Cincinnati this offseason, he had followed first-year special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs to Detroit.
The open roster spot will be filled by linebacker Jarrad Davis, who was activated off the COVID-19 reserve list.
Davis was placed on the list last Monday, the first of three Lions players to land on the list last week.
Playing a reduced role in 2020, the former first-round pick and team captain has been on the field for 160 defensive snaps, as well as 50 snaps on special teams. In seven games, he’s tallied 18 tackles and two forced fumbles.
Harmon takes charge
It’s a simple task that doesn’t take very much or very long to do.
Counting to 11.
It’s taken for granted that everyone is on the field and they’re in position, ready for each play. The Lions have found themselves in several situations where that simple task is either overlooked or not done at all.
Take, for example, one of the key plays in Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, when Dalvin Cook gashed and dashed for a 70-yard touchdown that put the game on ice. The Lions had 10 players on the field.
It’s happened a couple of times this season and in the past couple of years, a few more. It is just a simple task, but there are injuries to players in some defensive packages that complicate that situation a little bit.
“Those are things we’ve got to get fixed. We’ve got to make sure we handle those better and communicate on the sideline better when those things happen, if we have an injury or we have a situation when something comes up to make sure everybody’s tapped in with that,” coach Matt Patricia said Sunday. “We’ve got to get it right from a coaching standpoint.”
Safety Duron Harmon went a little bit further in his assessment, shouldering some of the burden moving forward in ensuring that it gets done. Because he’ll be at the back of the defense in many of those cases and can see the whole field, he’ll be the counter.
It’s an easy fix to an easy issue that has reared its head and hurt the Lions in some very critical instances.
“Count. Count every time I’m out there, if that’s what it comes down to, until it gets to the point where I feel like I don’t have to count anymore,” Harmon said Monday. “I’m the leader on the defense and that is what it is. I’m the safety. I make all the calls and it’s my job. That’s what I have to do; it’s on me.”