Reinforcements are on the way, but even that might not be enough to save the Detroit Lions’ struggling defense.
Lions coach Dan Campbell said the team is hoping to get second-year cornerback Jerry Jacobs and rookie defensive lineman Josh Paschal back at practice this week, with a return to game action in the not-too-distant future.
Jacobs and Paschal are on the nonfootball injury list and could begin their 21-day practice windows as soon as Wednesday.
Jacobs tore his ACL last December, while Paschal underwent sports hernia surgery this offseason. Jacobs told the Free Press last week he expects to begin practice Wednesday, with the goal of playing his first game after next week’s bye.
“I am excited for him to come back,” Lions secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant said last week. “Not only for him as a player, for what he did for us in the past, but just the teammate. You can feel him every day in the meeting rooms. He’s excited, he’s ready to go and I also think his competition challenges his teammates as well.”
A nine-game starter last season, Jacobs should add depth to a Lions defense that currently ranks 30th in the NFL against the pass and is last in points allowed.
He spent the open portion of practice last week working on the side with coaches, and his excitement to return was palpable as he bounced around the locker room.
Paschal, a second-round pick out of Kentucky, is expected to help the Lions initially as an interior pass rusher. In sub packages, his presence could allow the team to continue using rookie first-round pick Aidan Hutchinson as an edge rusher.
Hutchinson leads the Lions with three sacks, all in a Week 2 win over the Washington Commanders.
Campbell said fullback Jason Cabinda is the next-closest of the nine Lions currently on NFI, the physically unable to perform list or injured reserve ready to return, though that will not be until after the bye.
Rookie receiver Jameson Williams still is several weeks from returning to practice, while Campbell said defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike has not progressed in his return from a summer back injury.
“It’s not moving,” Campbell said. “That meter’s not moving, so there again we’re just kind of see where he goes.”
The Lions have a kicker workout scheduled for Tuesday morning, but Campbell expressed optimism Austin Seibert will return from his groin injury this week.
“We’re bringing in some guys to kick, just get a look at them and we’re hopeful to see if we can get Seibert to kick Wednesday, see where he’s at,” Campbell said. “So we’re just keeping our options open, looking at everything.”
Seibert told the Free Press last week he was battling soreness in his groin related to scar tissue from a 2021 surgery. He missed field goals of 48 and 54 yards in the Lions’ 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3 and sat out Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Dominik Eberle missed two extra points and sent a kickoff out of bounds against the Seahawks.
Lirim Hajrullahu, who spent part of the preseason with the Dallas Cowboys and was with the Los Angeles Rams when Lions general manager Brad Holmes and assistant GM Ray Agnew were with the team, is among those scheduled to workout Tuesday.
Campbell said cornerback Amani Oruwariye (neck) and linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez (stinger) appear to be fine after leaving Sunday’s game with injuries. Both returned to action late in the game.
Offensive lineman Evan Brown is day-to-day with an ankle injury, Campbell said, while Quintez Cephus could miss time with a foot injury. “He’s probably not as optimistic as some of the other ones we were talking about, but there again he’s getting an MRI right now,” Campbell said.