Detroit Lions’ Ifeatu Melifonwu ‘in a good place’ mentally after injury, position change

Detroit Free Press

Physically, Ifeatu Melifonwu still has work to do to get in game shape after missing more than a month with a hamstring injury.

Mentally, the second-year Detroit Lions safety “seems like he’s in a good place” in his transition to a new position after sitting out nearly all of training camp.

“He’s very active in the meeting,” Lions safeties coach Brian Duker said Wednesday. “He asks questions, we ask him questions. I feel very good about where he is mentally based on everything that I’ve seen in the meeting. Hopefully, as soon as he gets back on the field, he’ll be able to pick right up.”

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Melifonwu practiced on a limited basis Wednesday for the first time since the Lions’ Aug. 6 scrimmage at Ford Field.

Drafted as a cornerback in the third round out of Syracuse in 2021, Melifonwu moved to safety this offseason, swapping positions with Will Harris.

The Lions project Melifonwu as a matchup piece for their defense, though he likely will start the season in a limited role. Melifonwu made four starts and played in 10 games as a cornerback last season, missing time with a severe quad injury.

Duker said missing a month of practice reps has hurt Melifonwu’s development, but that Melifonwu was playing well before the injury.

“It’s missed reps and obviously that helps slow the transition and makes it more difficult,” he said. “But he was doing a really good job before he got (hurt) and I expect he’ll continue where he left off once he gets back.”

Coach ’em up

Two weeks after he was released as part of the roster cut to 80 players, former Lions linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton has rejoined the team as a defensive assistant. Hamilton was on the field at practice Wednesday working with linebackers during the open portion of practice.

A rotational player with Washington in 2018-20, Hamilton did not play in a regular-season game with the Lions after missing last season with an injury.

He was one of the players handling coaching duties, including relaying defensive play calls, during the Lions’ player-run practice last month.

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