Amani Oruwariye was a surprise inactive for last week’s game against the New England Patriots, but the Detroit Lions are not counting their interception leader from last season out of their cornerback rotation yet.
“Amani’s going to get a chance to compete,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said Monday. “I told him, he’s not out of the boat, so he’s going to get a chance to compete this week and see where he can help us.”
Oruwariye had a career-high and team-leading six interceptions in 2021, but struggled through the first month of this season.
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He was victimized by A.J. Brown (10 catches, 155 yards) in the Lions’ Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, missed a Week 2 win over the Washington Commanders with a back injury, was penalized six times in a Week 3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings and gave up a touchdown in a Week 4 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on a missed assignment in the red zone.
Oruwariye is tied for third in the NFL in penalties committed and has allowed 13 receptions for 202 yards in four games, according to Pro Football Reference.
Will Harris started at right cornerback in Oruwariye’s place against the Patriots, when Campbell said Oruwariye was inactive because of his lack of special teams contributions.
Mike Hughes and Bobby Price, who were active that day as the Lions’ fourth and fifth cornerbacks, played as gunners on the punt cover team, while AJ Parker started at slot cornerback.
Campbell downplayed a suggestion Monday that Oruwariye’s early-season struggles are due to his contract situation. Oruwariye is in the final year of his four-year rookie contract and until recently appeared headed for a significant payday as a free agent next spring.
“I don’t know about all that,” Campbell said. “I think it’s just, every player’s a little bit different at any given time and there’s always these circumstances that are sometimes you have control over, sometimes maybe not. But look, Amani’s a pro and look, he had two good days back-to-back last week, came out to work and so I anticipate him coming out Wednesday ready to roll and he’s a competitor.”
Jeff Okudah, in his return from a torn Achilles tendon, has been the Lions’ best cornerback through five games, though he was flagged twice for pass interference against the Patriots and has a 93.9 passer rating against, according to Pro Football Reference.
The Lions should be getting another potential starter back in their secondary this week as Jerry Jacobs is closing in on a return from a torn ACL.
Jacobs, who started nine games as an undrafted rookie last season, said before the bye he expected to be activated for the Lions’ Week 7 game against the Dallas Cowboys. Campbell said he envisions playing Jacobs at outside cornerback when he returns.
“The good news about Jerry is, man, when he’s physically ready, you know you can take him to the game cause he’s going to help you on special teams immediately,” Campbell said. “So now you’ve got him to the game and now it’s, OK, hey, you sprinkle him in outside or maybe we do feel good at nickel. Look, he brings value to the roster at a minimum just to have him game day cause he does so many things.”