The Detroit Lions are facing a major crisis of depth early in the 2021 season at one of the worst spots a team can sustain multiple injuries within the defensive backfield at cornerback.
Once again, the Lions have sustained a tough injury at the spot with the loss of Ifeatu Melifonwu to a thigh injury. Melifonwu left Monday night’s game and didn’t return, and the news wasn’t looking all that better in the hours afterward as it related to his status.
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Detroit head coach Dan Campbell said on Monday, September 21 that he believes Melifonwu will be down for a while with his injury, perhaps even multiple games or weeks. With that in mind, there was also a silver lining down the depth chart for the team.
As Campbell did admit to the media, he was very happy with how cornerback Bobby Price played in the game, and the staff is looking at him as another potential next man up for the team in the absence of both Jeff Okudah and Melifonwu.
“I thought he did pretty good. I thought he went out there and competed. I thought he played aggressive, was unfazed and man, it was encouraging,” Campbell said. “I would say right now he’s a guy we’re looking at being over there. We signed (Darryl) Worley last week, we’re not totally against him, us getting a look with him. We got Jerry (Jacobs) as well, but I was pleased wth the way Bobby came in and competed.”
During the game, Price made some nice plays and sticks in run support, which shows that he might be able to stick it out on the roster moving forward. The Lions’ brass maintained they liked the younger players coming into this season, and so far, the notion of them being solid defenders who can learn and grow is going to be put to the test in a major way.
Lions Defensive Backfield Facing Depth Issue
In the first two weeks of the season, the Lions have lost top cornerback Jeff Okudah as well as Ifeatu Melifonwu to injury. Last week, the Lions had to debate about how to deal with the loss of Okudah, and settled on giving Melifonwu a bigger role while also signing a couple young free agents with upside in Corey Ballentine and Darryl Worley. Once again, the Lions will have to find another player to step up, and given the comments of Campbell, it seems likely that Price is a major contender to do just that.
At this point in time, Amani Oruwariye is one of the last healthy starters at the cornerback spot, just going to prove how badly the injury bug has bitten the position early this season. That’s complicated matters for the Detroit defense in a big way.
Price’s Stats and Highlights
Price made the roster along with other young players such as A.J. Price, Melifonwu and Jerry Jacobs, and has been impressive thus far in camp and during the preseason. When pressed into duty on Monday night, he played decently as well, racking up 3 tackles in the game.
Price came to the Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2020 as a safety, cracked the practice squad and had to earn his way back on the roster this season, which he promptly did in the offseason. The 23 year old from Norfolk State would finish his collegiate career with 229 tackles, 8 tackles for-loss, 7 interceptions, 23 pass breakups and 4 fumble recoveries, which were very solid numbers for a small-school player.
Here’s a look at some of his game on tape from college:
Price’s goal now? Stick it out with the Lions and find a way to be the next next man up. It’s tough duty, but such is life in the NFL.