Lions hope to get Jacobs, Paschal back to practice this week; Onwuzurike not progressing

Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions have seven players on injured lists eligible to return to practice this week, and at least a couple of them are on track to return to the field, while a few others aren’t close to returning.

On the positive side of that equation, Lions coach Dan Campbell said the team is weighing whether to have cornerback Jerry Jacobs and rookie defensive lineman Josh Paschal practice starting Wednesday. Once a player returns to practice from an injured list, the team has three weeks before it is required to add him to the active roster. A small hangup for the Lions is the team’s bye is next week, interrupting the acclimation period for any player who returns this week.

Jacobs, signed as an undrafted free agent a year ago, emerged as a key contributor for the Lions as a rookie, appearing in 13 games and making nine starts. Surprisingly effective given his lack of experience, he held opposing quarterbacks to a 59% completion percentage on 39 targets before suffering a torn ACL.

Once fully cleared, Jacobs is expected to compete for playing time on both the outside, where he played last season, and in the slot as a nickel back.

As for Paschal, he’s been out since before training camp after requiring surgery to repair a sports hernia. A second-round pick out of Kentucky, he is expected to see snaps on the edge on early downs, while sliding inside on clear passing situations and on third downs.

Campbell sounded optimistic about fullback Jason Cabinda’s chances of returning to practice after the team’s bye. In addition to his blocking duties on offense, he plays a significant role on special teams, logging more than 240 snaps with those groups each of the past two seasons.

Beyond those three, that leaves the status of rookie receiver Jameson Williams (ACL), offensive guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai (back), defensive end Romeo Okwara (Achilles) and defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike (back) in limbo.

Williams, Vaitai and Okwara are all understandable, given they are working their way back from serious surgeries. Onwuzurike is the mystery, having been sidelined because of a back issue since the early stages of training camp. The team opted to place him on injured reserve when Campbell noted the rehab was moving at a “snail’s pace.” Four weeks later, the coach sounded even less encouraged with the young lineman’s progress.

“Yeah, it’s not moving,” Campbell said. “The meter is not moving. There again, we’ll just kind of see where he goes.”

This is the second straight year Onwuzurike has battled a back injury, playing through it much of last year. It’s an issue the team has said it was aware of when they drafted him in the second round out of the University of Washington in 2021.

As for the injuries coming out of Sunday’s game with Seattle, the reports were mostly good. Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez (stinger), cornerback Amani Oruwariye (neck) and offensive lineman Evan Brown (ankle) are all trending in the right direction to miss no or minimal time.

The one player who might end up sidelined is receiver Quintez Cephus. He suffered a foot injury early in the second half and was undergoing an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the damage.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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