Jermar Jefferson slammed into his own blocker and barreled across the goal line midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 44-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles when his mind went briefly blank.
A seventh-round pick out of Oregon State, Jefferson dropped the ball as he stood up to celebrate his first career touchdown and was on his way off the field when his teammate, Trinity Benson, told him he left something behind.
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“Getting my first NFL touchdown, I had the chills after,” Jefferson said Monday. “I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy.’ And the one thing, I think I left the ball there. And then T.B. and Amon-Ra (St. Brown) was like, ‘Get the ball, bro. This is your first football, first NFL touchdown.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, snap, I forgot.'”
Jefferson, who plans to give the ball to his father, Herb, has played sparingly for the Detroit Lions in the first half of the season and remains buried on the depth chart behind D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams.
But if his second career carry is any indication, better days should be ahead.
Jefferson was inactive for six of the Lions’ first seven games and played only on special teams in the seventh.
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On Sunday, with Williams nursing a thigh injury, Jefferson saw his first career action on offense. He played 11 snaps, caught four passes for 23 yards, had two rushes and scored on that 8-yard run.
Jefferson said it was “a little depressing” to not crack the playing rotation the first seven weeks of the season. But he used that time to sharpen his special teams skills and become “an educated person in the game of football (by) watching the older guys and just learning from them.”
“I love football so much so it was a little frustrating at first,” Jefferson said. “But I’ve talked to my coaches a lot, like (running backs coach Duce) Staley. He’s just saying be patient, you never know when your time is up, so whenever your name is called just be ready and stay ready so that’s what I did.”
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Staley said in late September that Jefferson was doing what was asked in practice, but that circumstances had kept the rookie off the field. The Lions rely heavily on Swift and Williams on offense, and Godwin Igwebuike has been active every week as the No. 3 running back because of his special teams ability.
“You want him to be upset (about not playing). That’s just how I see it,” Staley said. “I want him mad. I want him angry. I want him in my office at 6 a.m. I want him in my office at 6 p.m., wondering why because that tells me that it means a lot to him, he loves it and he wants to go out there on the field and prove who he is.”
Jefferson said he went to Staley’s office and texted his coach asking what he needed to do to get on the field. When he finally did Sunday, he looked like someone who can contribute in the NFL.
“I feel like no one plays really perfect,” Jefferson said. “There’s always something you can find that you can work on during that game or practice, or go back and watch film and watch what you could have did different. So I feel like I could’ve played a better game, for sure.”
Bye week plans
The Lions have a modified practice schedule this week during their bye.
Lions coach Dan Campbell said players reported to Allen Park for a lift and run Monday, and will have their normal film session Tuesday. Young players with limited roles will have a light practice Tuesday, and Wednesday the Lions will have a short situational practice before breaking for the week.
Campbell said he’ll spend his week off “crunching the tape,” though he might move some of his film study to his Birmingham home to spend time with his family.
“My staff is looking at all of our self-scout, what we are. What’s a snap shot of what we do well, what we don’t do well? How about our personnel? Would we be better suited to move a few guys around and put them in a different spot? We’re going to do that,” Campbell said. “Ultimately I’m going to spend it trying to see where I can help us improve and get a win.”
Contact Dave Birkett at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.