Allen Park — The Detroit Lions announced the release of nine players Monday morning as the team whittles its roster down to a final, 53-man limit ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.
The Lions released veteran receiver Breshad Perriman and waived wide receiver Victor Bolden, defensive tackle Miles Brown, cornerback Mike Ford, safety Alijah Holder, offensive lineman Evan Heim and wide receiver Damion Ratley. Additionally, the team waiver-injured offensive linemen Tyrell Crosby and Dan Skipper.
Ford and Crosby were unquestionably the surprise moves from the morning.
Ford opened training camp working as the nickelback with the first-team defense and closed the preseason with two pass breakups, but it apparently wasn’t enough.
Ford took to social media Monday morning, posting a short thank you to Detroit after receiving the news.
Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Southeast Missouri State in 2018, Ford has spent his entire three-year career with the Lions.
Primarily used on special teams, most notably as a gunner in punt coverage, he’s appeared in 31 games for the Lions during that stretch. That includes seven starts at cornerback, although his defensive playing time has decreased each season.
A free agent this past offseason, the Lions re-signed Ford to a one-year, $1.2 million contract that included $400,000 in guarantees. And his practice usage suggested he would have a role, particularly after the team released top backup Quinton Dunbar.
Instead, the Lions are apparently ready to lean more heavily on rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu as one of the top backups to starters Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye on the outside. Presumably, Melifonwu will also take over many of Ford’s special teams assignments.
“Look, we’ve got a lot of young talent there,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “It’s a very young group. It’s as young as it gets. I would venture to say it’s probably the youngest group.
“I know it’s a group that we like a lot and it’s a group we want to work with,” Campbell said. “We think there’s room for them to grow and really develop. And those guys do a lot on special teams for us.”
At nickelback, where Ford began camp, undrafted rookie A.J. Parker seized upon an opportunity and is now projected as the starter at that spot, with either Corn Elder or Nickell Robey-Coleman providing some veteran depth.
As for Crosby, he served as the team’s starting right tackle much of last season, but was relegated to a backup role following the team’s selection of Penei Sewell in the first round of April’s draft.
There were offseason reports the Lions were shopping Crosby in a trade, but those talks were quelled when Crosby missed much of training camp and the preseason with a Grade-1 hamstring strain.
Crosby returned to the lineup for the preseason finale, playing just nine snaps as the starting left tackle. In that limited playing time, he surrendered a sack that led to quarterback Tim Boyle breaking his thumb.
The Lions had the option of putting Crosby on the 53-man roster and moving him to injured reserve a day later, but ultimately decided to move on from the fourth-year lineman.
“We didn’t feel like he was one of the best guys,” Campbell said.
Campbell admitted concern about Detroit’s overall depth at offensive line following Monday’s moves, indicating there could be additions in the coming days.
“Yeah, I would say all those guys, certainly, we’re looking at more depth, a little bit,” Campbell said. “We may or may not have it here, if I’m being honest with you. I think what needs to be remembered here, just between today and tomorrow, some of these moves we make, does not mean these are guys that this is who we’re riding with all the way through the season. There’s going to be some guys that are on our team that aren’t even in the building yet. That’s probably going to happen.”
The team does have one bright spot among its backups along the offensive line. Logan Stenberg, a fourth-round draft pick a year ago, has come on strong in recent weeks, according to Campbell.
Stenberg exited last week’s preseason finale with an injury. Campbell said it’s a mild MCL sprain and he doesn’t expect Stenberg to miss much ti