From linebacker to scout team menace, Lions’ Jason Cabinda scores first NFL touchdown

Detroit News

Detroit — Detroit Lions fullback Jason Cabinda has had a unique path to get to this point in his career. On Sunday, that path made its first detour into the end zone.

While it wasn’t the game-winner, Cabinda’s touchdown in the third quarter, which capitalized on a turnover one play earlier, was an exclamation point in Detroit’s 30-12 victory over the heavily favored Arizona Cardinals.

It was also the first touchdown of Cabinda’s career, which isn’t all that surprising considering he was playing linebacker a year and a half ago.

“It felt great,” Cabinda said. “I hadn’t gotten on the box (score) since like high school, so to go out there and get a touchdown for my team and to help us win and finish with a win, it was awesome.”

Cabinda’s touchdown wasn’t an accident. While you never know how a game will play out, the Lions planned and practiced for the opportunity throughout the week. It wasn’t until cornerback Amani Oruwariye returned an interception to the six-yard line that the right opportunity presented itself.

Cabinda, lining up at tight end as he’s been doing more and more due to injuries in recent weeks, leaked into the right flat out of play-action, beating his man to the edge of the formation. From there, he just had to make the grab.

After crossing the goal line, Cabinda spiked the ball and immediately transitioned into a celebratory dance. Seeing his teammate reveling in his moment, quick-thinking quarterback Jared Goff raced to secure the ball as a keepsake for his teammate.

“I’ve had a handful of first touchdowns this year, which has been fun to go grab that ball and bring it back to those guys,” Goff said. “We had talked all week, we had a lot of stuff up in the red zone for him specifically and we’re like, ‘Man, you’re going to catch your first one this week. You’re going to catch your first one.’ And sure enough, that got called and it was him scoring.”

in his three seasons with the Lions, Cabinda has quickly become a locker room favorite with both teammates and coaches. This year, the team named him their Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for his works in the community as well as his performance on the field.

“When he first got here, he was a linebacker,” offensive tackle Taylor Decker said. “Then he was playing scout team D-end, so I got to see a lot of him. And you can see he plays with tenacity. He plays really hard. So that’s not fun to go against in practice.

“Him and I would get into it a little bit, but I have a lot of respect for that guy,” Decker said. “He came in as a linebacker, he played D-end on scout team, he moved to fullback, he’s playing some tight end, he’s doing all sorts of things. And he just wants to do what he can to help the team win.”

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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