Detroit Lions waived starting S Jayron Kearse after a violation of team rules

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
 
| Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions waived safety Jayron Kearse earlier this week in order to give more playing time to young safeties Tracy Walker and Will Harris, but there is more to the story.

Kearse committed a violation of team rules before the Lions’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week when he left the team hotel without permission and was late for bed check, multiple sources told the Free Press.

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Kearse, who was a late addition to last week’s injury report, did not play against the Buccaneers because of those transgressions, and likely would have been inactive again Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

His agent did not return a phone call seeking comment.

A starter the second half of the season, Kearse had 59 tackles in 11 games for the Lions. He played primarily as a box safety on defense and was a regular contributor on special teams after serving a three-game suspension to start the season for a 2019 arrest while with the Vikings.

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Scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March, Kearse did not factor into the Lions’ long-term plans, and thus the team decided to waive him this week in order to free up a roster spot while seeing more of Walker and Harris, third-round picks in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

He went unclaimed on waivers Tuesday.

Walker, in his third season out of Louisiana, has had an inconsistent fall after showing plenty of promise his first two seasons.

His cousin, Ahmaud Arbery, was murdered while jogging near his Brunswick, Georgia, home this offseason. He lost his starting job to Harris at the beginning of training camp. And he became a first-time father earlier this month.

“At times it was tough,” Walker said after the birth of his son, Tracy Walker IV. “It was very hard to try to overcome, especially when you’re getting thrown out there just to try to go make a play. So at times it was difficult, but like I said, I got to step up and I got to do what I got to do. I got to play to the best of my ability and regardless of the situations I’m put in, I got to capitalize on it.”

Walker admitted he “wasn’t playing the best I should have been” at times this season, but said he found a comfort zone in recent weeks.

“My life has been pretty, pretty hectic this year,” Walker said. “So I definitely found — I found myself again, so let’s just go with that.”

Walker, who made his first start last week since Nov. 1, is second on the team with 70 tackles, including four for loss. Harris has 31 tackles in a smaller role.

The Lions (5-10) are out of playoff contention after a tumultuous fall and trying to determine which defensive pieces are worth keeping for the next regime.

They fired head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn after Thanksgiving, fired special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs after a rogue fake punt call last week, and played against the Buccaneers without five coaches due to COVID-19 protocols.

One of those coaches was found not to be wearing his contact tracing bracelet at all times, a team source told the Free Press last week.

The NFL, as is standard procedure, is currently reviewing the Lions’ COVID outbreak.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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