Lions’ Jefferson avoids serious ankle injury; Robey-Coleman has big opportunity at nickel

Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions have had their fair share of injuries the first two weeks of training camp, but have largely avoided any issues that could be viewed as long-term concerns. The team dodged another bullet Monday after rookie running back Jermar Jefferson suffered an ankle injury.

Jefferson left a special teams drill following his rep, struggling to support his weight on the injured ankle, but coach Dan Campbell said that initial testing indicated the running back avoided a dreaded high ankle sprain.

The minor sprain will still keep Jefferson out of practice Tuesday and likely a few additional days. That puts his status for Friday’s preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills in doubt.

Jefferson, a seventh-round pick out of Oregon State, has impressed Lions coaches with his vision and competitive toughness during his first offseason. He’s primarily operated with the second-team offense on the practice field, but has recently been getting some reps with the top unit due to a lingering groin injury limiting D’Andre Swift’s workload.

New addition’s roster shot

The Lions have made a flurry of moves the past few days to address multiple depth issues created by the injuries. In many cases, those signings are longshots to make the roster, but that’s not the case with veteran cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, who joined the Lions after Monday’s practice.

An eight-year veteran with extensive starting experience, Robey-Coleman is in line to see plenty of reps right out the gate at slot cornerback with Corn Elder dealing with a hamstring strain and Mike Ford, who has seen the majority of the nickelback work with the first-team defense, being shifted back to outside cornerback.

“He gives us a little depth and he gives us veteran presence,” Campbell said. “We’re going to get a pretty good look at him out there, too. He gives us more flexibility as guy who has done it and played it and knows it.”

Even before he steps on the field in a Lions uniform, the team has a better-than-usual understanding of the player it is getting in Robey-Coleman. General manager Brad Holmes, assistant GM Ray Agnew and assistant head coach Duce Staley have all been with the cornerback at his other NFL spots, while defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant was Robey-Coleman’s position coach from 2017-19 with the Los Angeles Rams.

“That certainly helps when you know the background of the player and you know his character and you know what he’s about,” Campbell said. “That’s easy. Then you just want to make sure that physically he still has it, like he can do it. So we got him out here, worked him out a little bit and he looked good. He’s ready to go.”

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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