Lions roster tracker: Jahlani Tavai among cuts as team works toward 53-man limit

Detroit News

Allen Park — A day after cutting nine players, the Detroit Lions began Tuesday with more than a dozen more to go to get to the 53-player limit by the day’s 4 p.m. deadline.

Below is the latest updates:

► 12:55 p.m. — The news has slowed to a trickle through the early afternoon, with only a report the Lions will waive inside linebacker Tavante Beckett. That move was predictable, but expect there to be some interest in bringing him back on the practice squad.

Beckett is undersized, listed at just 220 pounds. The Lions like his instincts, but coach Dan Campbell recently said the rookie would benefit from a year of development in the program.

► According to a source, undrafted rookie cornerback Jerry Jacobs is set to make Detroit’s initial 53-man roster. Obviously, plenty could change in the next 24 hours, based on potential waiver claims, but it’s been an impressive ascension for Jacobs, who opted out halfway through his 2020 season at Arkansas.

Although not confirmed, Jacobs will likely be one of two undrafted rookie defensive backs on Detroit’s initial roster, with A.J. Parker trending toward the starting nickel job.

► 9:50 a.m. — The Lions are cutting wide receiver Geronimo Allison, according to the NFL Network.

Allison’s time in Detroit was unique, to say the least. He signed a one-year deal with the club in 2020, but ultimately decided to opt out of the campaign. He returned this offseason to a new regime than the one that initially brought him in.

The big-framed veteran spent the entirety of his career with the Green Bay Packers before coming to Detroit. He had a relatively quiet training camp, but ended up catching at least one pass in each of the team’s preseason games, finishing with five receptions for 59 yards in the three contests.

Detroit’s addition of Trinity Benson via a trade Tuesday morning erased Allison’s already slim chances of sticking heading into the day.

► 9:10 a.m. — A first wave of news hit early as the team parted with a trio of players, headlined by linebacker Jahlani Tavai, according to an ESPN report.

A big-bodied, physical linebacker, Tavai was selected in the second round of the 2019 draft as a schematic fit for former coach Matt Patricia’s defense.

After suffering a shoulder injury at the end of his rookie season, he struggled to regain his momentum from the end of that campaign, slogging through his second year. Analytics website Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the worst players at the linebacker position in 2020, with his below-average speed hindering him as both a run defender and in coverage.

As the Lions cleaned house of ill-fitting pieces this offseason following Patricia’s firing, Tavai was retained and asked to slim down to be a better fit for the new defensive scheme. He impressed the coaching staff with his commitment, shedding nearly 20 pounds.

But the speed issues lingered, which were compounded by an absence of instinctual play during the preseason.

In addition to Tavai, the Lions also waived a couple of training camp standouts, running back Craig Reynolds and defensive tackle Bruce Hector.

Hector’s release was first reported by the NFL Network. The veteran had been claimed off waivers by the Lions at the start of training camp and immediately impressed in his opportunities.

“He does make it difficult in a good way,” Campbell said earlier this month. “…Every day he comes out and does his job and just shows up. He’s just kind of quietly is always there. He’s consistent, he’s smart, he’s a workhorse, and it’s hard not to notice. It sure is. He would be one of those guys that is going to make it real hard on us if he continues to trend the way he’s trending.”

As for Reynolds, he didn’t join the Lions until the eve of the preseason opener, but he proceeded to lead the team with 87 rushing yards on 15 carries, including a 24-yard touchdown in that debut.

Assuming they clear waivers, Hector and Reynolds would both make sense for the team’s practice squad.

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