The Detroit Lions are facing down some injury trouble early in the 2020 season, and the news is bad for their defense early on.
According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Lions are placing cornerback Justin Coleman on injured reserve. Coleman left Week 1 with a hamstring injury, and that injury is going to keep him out at least 3 weeks now.
The #Lions are placing CB Justin Coleman on injured reserve because of the hamstring strain he suffered Sunday, source said. The hope is he’s ready to return when he’s eligible in three weeks.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 15, 2020
Detroit has sustained a rash of hamstring injuries to start the year, and Coleman is their first critical loss. The hope is they don’t have to lose others such as Desmond Trufant and Jeff Okudah in the weeks ahead given their own injury issues early in the season.
Now, the Lions will likely have to make a signing to compensate for the loss of a key veteran piece in the slot.
Justin Coleman Stats
Coleman has already made a huge impression for his ability to blanket receivers and make elite plays when the ball is thrown his way. In Detroit last season, Colman started hot with 11 tackles and 1 forced fumble. That led those who are watching closely, including ESPN’s Field Yates, to proclaim him one of the best signings of the free agency period early on.
After watching Coleman match up with Kansas City Chiefs, Yates seemed very excited about what Coleman has been providing the Lions early in his tenure with the team.
Justin Coleman has been one of the best free agent signings of the offseason. He's been an absolute stud for the Lions. https://t.co/JNthXBiawU
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 30, 2019
It’s been a long time since the Lions could count on anything consistent from their defensive backfield, but with Coleman in the mix, they are finally seeing some quality depth shine through.
After the Lions shelled out the 4 year, $36 million deal to Coleman in free agency last March nearly immediately, the prevailing thought was concern about whether a player who only had a mere 119 tackles, 2 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries in his career would be worth the major money. The key, though, was always the fact that Coleman was coming into a defense in which he has a strong background with Matt Patricia. His awareness around the ball is also key.
In New England, Coleman fit Patricia’s plan perfectly, and it was the Patriots who ended up using Coleman the best. When he went to the Seattle Seahawks, Coleman enjoyed a bit more production and more money, but it was easy to see he loved his role in a comfortable defensive scheme when he jumped at the chance to re-unite with Patricia in Detroit.
Even though the Lions paid Coleman in a big way, it’s obvious that he is proving his worth to the team, and might even be playing well enough to be considered a steal in spite of his massive contract. He has to get back on the field to do this, though.
Lions Cornerback Injuries
Detroit has been dinged up badly in the secondary, with Jeff Okudah not playing Week 1 thanks to a hamstring injury. During the game, they also lost Justin Coleman as well as Desmond Trufant to injury. Trufant’s ailment cost Detroit dearly because the team seemed to get worse after he was forced to leave the field. Already, 3 key cogs in Detroit’s operation could be forced to miss time due to injury which isn’t ideal in the least bit.
The fact that the Lions are in such a desperate position after only a single week speaks to how poorly their depth has been this season.
Lions Cornerback Battle Fierce
Detroit has a good competition brewing in the second level for reps and snaps, where Amani Oruwaryie and Desmond Trufant have stepped up early and shown their stuff. Tony McRae has also taken steps toward showing he can be a key veteran contributor, and prior to injury, Mike Ford was looking like a player who was going to carve out a role on the roster for the team. All told, the team has fairly good depth at the spot.
Where does Okudah fit in with this? Likely near the top of this group when all is said and done and camp eventually concludes, but cornerback can be a difficult position to master at the next level. The team is probably very smart to be starting him slow, especially given the way the offseason has played out in 2020.
The Lions hope they get their major players back for this group, but until then, they might need to look in another direction to get some additional help.
That might only be the case more now that Coleman has been lost.