Craig Reynolds nearly saw his spot on the Detroit Lions‘ roster slip away last summer, and one insider believes it will fall out of his grasp entirely this time around.
The veteran running back is expected to face a battle in training camp after the team signed free agent David Montgomery and used a first-round pick on Jahmyr Gibbs. But Christian Booher of SI.com’s All Lions wrote that it could end up being an undrafted free agent who ultimately steals the final spot in the running back rotation from Reynolds.
Craig Reynolds Expected to Lose Out to Mohamed Ibrahim
As Booher noted, Reynolds nearly lost his spot on the team last training camp in a scene that played out on “Hard Knocks.” Head coach Dan Campbell was seen debating whether to release Reynolds, but the staff ultimately decided against it.
But after the team signed undrafted free agent Mohamed Ibrahim this May, Reynolds’ fate may be sealed, Booher added.
“A scene during last season’s ‘Hard Knocks’ in which Campbell and the staff debated releasing Craig Reynolds may prove telling,” Booher wrote. “Ibrahim was a surprising UDFA who had a good career at Minnesota. If he can translate his talent into a strong training camp, he’ll have a solid shot to make the roster as the third running back.”
Booher predicted that Ibrahim would take the final roster spot at running back, as the Lions are already expected to bring back fullback Jason Cabinda in another roster spot.
Reynolds has already seen his role decrease in the Lions’ offense. After rushing for 230 yards in the 2021 season, he had just 102 yards last season and has not scored a touchdown during his tenure with the team.
Veteran RB Could Still Hold Advantage
As The Athletic’s Colton Pouncy wrote in a May 22 article, Reynolds could still hold a slight advantage over Ibrahim as the two battle for a roster spot. Pouncy noted that the Lions’ coaching staff has spoken highly of Reynolds, even in the aforementioned “Hard Knocks” clip where Campbell discussed releasing him.
“And for what it’s worth, the response was swift and supportive in favor of Reynolds,” Pouncy noted of the 2022 interaction. “Former senior offensive assistant John Morton said Reynolds was everything the Lions represent. Offensive line coach Hank Fraley and former running backs coach Duce Staley said the offensive line loves Reynolds because of his knowledge of the protections and their relationship with him. Wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El echoed those sentiments.”
Whether Ibrahim or Reynolds secures the final spot, either could have a difficult time carving out a significant role with Montgomery and Gibbs leading the way. The rookie Gibbs has been a standout through the first week of mandatory minicamp, earning some good reviews for his speed and versatility.
Adam Schein of NFL.com predicted that Gibbs could lead all running backs in touchdowns in the coming season.
“I lauded the Lions’ draft a few weeks ago, specifically stating my love for the controversial Gibbs pick. Was a running back at No. 12 overall too rich for your blood? Not mine! And Gibbs is not just a running back; with legit pass-catching ability, he’s a true offensive weapon with breakneck speed,” Schein wrote. “He’s a home run hitter, and savvy offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will exploit this to the fullest.”