Detroit Lions cut tracker Day 2: Demetrius Taylor makes roster as undrafted rookie

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions have had at least one undrafted rookie make their Week 1 roster for 12 straight seasons. Defensive tackle Demetrius Taylor could run that streak to 13.

The Lions informed Taylor he made their initial 53-man roster Tuesday.

Taylor still could be waived before the Lions’ season-opener Sept. 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the undrafted rookie out of Appalachian State has a good chance of sticking after a strong preseason.

Taylor played 31 snaps in Sunday’s preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and had a half-sack nullified by an enforced offensive holding penalty. Nicknamed “Sawed Off” because of his stature, Taylor – 6 feet 1 and 295 pounds – adds interior pass rush to the Lions’ revamped defensive line.

The Lions spent two of their first three draft picks on linemen Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal in April, but Paschal will miss at least the first four games of the regular season after undergoing offseason sports hernia surgery. Backup defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike also could miss Week 1 with a back injury.

The Lions have gotten good contributions from undrafted rookies since 2010, when Aaron Berry made the Week 1 roster as a UDFA and started at cornerback. Last year, AJ Parker, who was among Tuesday’s cuts, and Jerry Jacobs played key roles as undrafted rookies in the secondary.

The Lions also waived defensive tackle Bruce Hector on Tuesday.

Jacobs to PUP

Jerry Jacobs will miss at least the first four games of the regular season after all.

The Detroit Lions intend to place Jacobs on the reserve/physically unable to perform list at Tuesday’s roster cut deadline, NFL Network reported.

The Lions held off on moving Jacobs to the reserve/PUP list last week, when they placed Romeo Okwara, Jason Cabinda and Josh Paschal on PUP and Jameson Williams on the reserve/nonfootball injury list.

Jacobs told the Free Press last week he was “85%” recovered from the torn ACL he suffered last December. Lions coach Dan Campbell said Monday that Jacobs would not be ready for the season opener Sept. 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the team was expecting him to return early in the year.

Jacobs started nine games as an undrafted rookie last season and should be in the mix for playing time in the secondary once he’s healthy this fall.

By keeping Jacobs on the PUP list to start the season, the Lions opened a spot on their 53-man roster they potentially could use to keep an injured player for return this year. Players placed on injured reserve before 4 p.m. Tuesday are essentially lost for the year.

Jacobs could make his season debut as early as Oct. 9 against the New England Patriots. The Lions have a bye the following week.

AJ Parker cut

The Lions informed AJ Parker they intend to waive him Tuesday as part of their cut down to a 53-man roster.

Parker started seven games as an undrafted rookie last fall, made 50 tackles and had one interception. The Lions brought in competition for their nickel package this offseason, signing Mike Hughes to a free agent contract and using a seventh-round pick on Arizona State’s Chase Lucas.

Hughes and Parker split slot cornerback reps with the first-team defense this summer, while Lucas played primarily as a backup and saw occasional time at safety.

Asked about the competition at the position after Sunday’s preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Lions coach Dan Campbell said, “It’s tight.”

More:Chase Lucas talks life on the NFL roster bubble

“AJ is — he’s proven to be dependable,” Campbell said. “He’s smart, he’s crafty. Though he has limitations, he understands his own limitations and is able to play at least one step ahead because he is a smart player and so that’s what he has right now going for him. And it’s like we said, he was one of those players, man, we go into this last game, just be a dependable you again. Just be dependable, and don’t try to be something you’re not and then let the chips fall where they will.”

Hughes, a first-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2018, could take over as the Lions’ starting slot cornerback, though Campbell said Sunday that Will Harris also could see time in the role. Harris lost a position battle with Jeff Okudah to be the Lions’ other starting outside cornerback.

Anthony Pittman waived

The Lions had one of the best special teams units in the NFL last season, and if they’re going to repeat that feat this fall, they’ll be doing so without one of their best special teams players.

The Lions informed linebacker Anthony Pittman he was being waived as part of their cut down to a 53-man roster early Tuesday morning.

Pittman led the Lions in special teams snaps last season, playing more than 85% of special teams plays and tied for second on the team with eight special teams tackles.

The Lions used Pittman regularly on their top kick and punt units this summer and seemed to be searching for a role for him on defense. Pittman saw time primarily as an edge-rushing outside linebacker in training camp after bouncing between off-ball and outside linebacker in his first three NFL seasons.

A Wayne State product who played his high school football at Birmingham Groves, Pittman spent most of the 2019-20 seasons on the Lions practice squad before playing in all 17 games with one start last season.

On Monday, the Lions informed linebacker Jarrad Davis of his release. They currently have seven linebackers on their roster: Alex Anzalone, Malcolm Rodriguez, Derrick Barnes, Chris Board, Josh Woods and outside linebackers Julian Okwara and James Houston.

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