Allen Park — The Detroit Lions received high marks across the board for making three high-profile signings in the secondary this offseason.
And yes, that includes from third-year Lions corner Jerry Jacobs, who was bumped down on the offseason depth chart because of them.
“When we signed free (agents) like Cam (Sutton), Chauncey (Gardner-Johnson), Emmanuel (Moseley), man, that’s turnt,” Jacobs said after OTAs last week. “That’s just making me bring more fuel to the fire and help the DB room compete, make each other better. When we signed them guys, I was happy.”
Jacobs was one of the lone bright spots in Detroit’s 2021 season, the first under head coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. As an undrafted free agent, he thrived before suffering a season-ending ACL tear, only to make his full-time return to the defense in 2022 during the Week 9 win against Green Bay, when the Lions’ defense started to turn a new page.
After the signings of Sutton and Moseley, some speculated Jacobs was now the odd man out in a room that was also trying to bring along Jeff Okudah for the fourth and final year of his rookie deal. As it would turn out, it was Okudah whose days were numbered in Detroit.
The former No. 3 pick was traded to the Atlanta Falcons ahead of the draft. Amani Oruwariye, presumed to the team’s No. 1 heading into last season before suffering the worst season of his career, was let go.
Jacobs is still standing.
“Why is (Jacobs) still here? Because he’s a damn good player,” Glenn said last week.”(We expect) him to go out there and compete with the other guys that we brought in. We’ll let that shake out. If he wins it, he wins it. If he doesn’t, he’ll understand what his role will be.”
Perhaps that last line is the greatest case for Jacobs remaining with Detroit. He’s grown into a nice young corner in the league, but more than that, he’s just a soldier. Though he takes the strengthened cornerbacks room as a personal challenge to elevate his game, he doesn’t see it as an opportunity-limiting situation.
In fact, he’s expecting it to expedite his growth.
“Cam Sutton, seven years in, (shoot), he taught me more than since I’ve been in the league, man,” Jacobs said. “Just having him in my corner, and Chauncey, he’s just gritty, loud. He’s just a dawg, and that’s just gonna bring that dog (out of) me too. So man, I’m glad we signed new type of guys in the DB room.”
And along the way, Jacobs has taught them a thing or two about the expectations in Detroit.
“Just letting ‘em know that, man, we not the same Lions from years ago,” Jacobs said. “We hungry. They seen the season we had last year and they know we wanna win. They know we got the grit. Them seeing us do what we did last year and coming over here to help us out, you know they’re coming with the grit, too.
“So (I’ve been) letting them know, we ain’t come here to play. We go out there and we play hard. If y’all come in and be on our team, you gotta do the same thing.”