Lions place return man Ballentine on injured reserve; Decker doesn’t practice

Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions have lost another player to injury, placing cornerback and return man Corey Ballentine on injured reserve Friday morning.

Ballentine suffered a hamstring injury in last Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings and had been unable to practice this week. By being placed on injured reserve, he must sit out at least three games. He’ll be eligible to return Nov. 14, after the bye week, when the Lions travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers.

The Lions claimed Ballentine, 25, off waivers from the New York Jets last month and he quickly earned the team’s kickoff return job. After dealing with touchbacks his first two appearances, he returned four kicks against the Vikings, averaging 23.5 yards.

With Ballentine out, the Lions could go back to running back Godwin Igwebuike, who handled kickoffs to start the season. Lions coach Dan Campbell said wide receiver Tom Kennedy is another option in the mix.

The Lions didn’t immediately fill the roster opening created by placing Ballentine on IR. Defensive tackle Kevin Strong and offensive tackle Taylor Decker are candidates, but look to be longshots.

Decker was wearing a brace on his left hand and wasn’t in uniform for Friday’s practice, suggesting he won’t be ready to play this week.

“We’re just taking it day-by-day,” Campbell said. “He’s been getting used to it. He went out there Wednesday, kind of had a bigger club if you will, and then we reduced (the protection) Thursday and got him some reps. It’s hard to say right now. We’ll do some more today and then see where we’re at.”

Campbell also noted Strong is still a bit away from returning.

In positive news, running back Jamaal Williams returned to practice after missing Thursday’s session with an illness.

To provide cornerback depth on the practice field with Ballentine out, the Lions signed former Michigan State standout Shakur Brown to the team’s practice squad. The undrafted rookie spent the offseason with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was most recently on Kansas City’s practice squad.

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jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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