Lions notes: CB Amani Oruwariye misses practice; another practice squad CB on COVID list

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions lost nearly their entire cornerback corps to a COVID-19 outbreak earlier this month. On Wednesday, the one cornerback who avoided the virus, Amani Oruwariye, missed practice with a thumb injury.

Oruwariye was one of three Lions who did not practice Wednesday, along with linebackers Josh Woods (neck) and Julian Okwara (ankle). Okwara spent the open portion of practice working on the side with trainers.

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Oruwariye has been a key part of the Lions’ defensive success this season. He leads the team and ranks third in the NFL with six interceptions, and he made the key play in last week’s upset of the Arizona Cardinals, intercepting a Kyler Murray pass two plays after Lions running back Godwin Igwebuike lost a third quarter fumble.

“The biggest play of the game in my opinion I think was Amani’s interception because it just snuffed out any opportunity for them to get the momentum back or get it going at all,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “That was huge.”

The Lions started safety Will Harris at cornerback against the Cardinals, and could turn to him again if Oruwariye’s absence extends through Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

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Rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu and backup Bobby Price also returned from the reserve/COVID list last week, and safety Tracy Walker practiced Wednesday for the first time since he was activated from COVID-IR.

Campbell said Walker tested positive for COVID the morning of the Cardinals game, but has tested negative since.

Left guard Jonah Jackson returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday after missing the Cardinals game with a back injury.

Running back D’Andre Swift also practiced on a limited basis Wednesday for the first time since spraining his shoulder in the Lions’ Thanksgiving loss to the Chicago Bears.

Campbell said he will be watching Swift during practice this week to see if he has enough “confidence in (his shoulder) to take a shot” before he returns to game action.

“It’s a little bit like (Jalen) Reeves-Maybin last week,” Campbell said. “First couple of days he looked a little gingerly if you will, just because he was trying to feel it out and then, man, he went out Friday and kind of banged around on a sled and we did some different things with him and he was great. He knew, ‘I’m good. This will be fine, I can handle this.’ And then he was able to go in there and play great for us. So that’s what we’re looking for out of Swift.”

Corners and COVID

The Lions placed cornerback Chris Williamson on the practice squad reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, bringing their total number of COVID cases to 14 in the past 17 days.

Currently, the Lions have seven players in COVID protocols: Quarterback Jared Goff, offensive tackle Matt Nelson, injured receiver Quintez Cephus and practice squad defensive players Williamson, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Corey Ballentine and Tavante Beckett.

Williamson, who signed Dec. 14, is the eighth Lions defensive back to come down with COVID as part of the outbreak. Safeties Tracy Walker and Jalen Elliott, and cornerbacks Ifeatu Melifonwu, Bobby Price and Mark Gilbert have been activated from COVID-IR.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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