Lions Predicted to Part Ways With Veteran RB Before Training Camp Starts

Jermar Jefferson

Getty Jermar Jefferson runs against the Steelers in the 2021 preseason.

After spending the last three seasons at the edge of the Detroit Lions roster, running back Jermar Jefferson could have difficulty lasting just a few more weeks.

Reporter Vito Chirco of’s All Lions named Jefferson as the player most likely to be released before the start of training camp in July, noting that he has steadily fallen down the depth chart since joining the team in 2021. The Lions have added new talent to their backfield, including a rookie predicted to take on a big role this year, and Jefferson could wind up the odd man out, Chirco wrote.

Former Seventh-Round Pick Struggling to Stand Out

Jefferson came to the Lions as a seventh-round pick in 2021 and appeared in seven games that season, rushing 15 times for 74 yards with two touchdowns. He spent the following two seasons on the practice squad, not appearing in any games.

As Chirco noted, Jefferson has made a steady fall down the depth chart and may struggle to find a spot at training camp.

“Jefferson has been with the Lions since the team drafted him in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft. However, he’s yet to make any noise, and now is presumably behind not only David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, but also Sione Vaki, Zonovan Knight and Craig Reynolds on Detroit’s running backs depth chart,” Chirco wrote. “I think Jefferson is the odd man out, and is in serious danger of being released prior to training camp.”

Lions Rookie Running Back Earning Buzz

If he does remain on the roster through training camp, Jefferson could see some fierce competition from one of the newest additions to the backfield. Vaki, who joined the team as a fourth-round pick this year, earned some strong reviews through the team’s early practices and could take on a role both on offense and special teams.

Tim Twentyman, reporter for the team’s official website, said the former Utah running back was “dominant” in special teams drills at rookie minicamp in May.

“After watching fourth-round pick Sione Vaki take part in the first open rookie minicamp practice on Friday, it’s easy to see why the Detroit Lions fell in love with his game in the pre-draft process,” Twentyman wrote.

“He was dominant in special teams periods, at one point getting to the returner first for what would have been a tackle (no hitting or pads in minicamp) on three straight reps he took part in on the coverage team.”

Lions general manager Brad Holmes said the team started scouting Vaki when he was a safety, then grew even more interested when he converted to running back in his final season at Utah. As Twentyman noted, Vaki was a quick study at running back.

“In individual running back drills, he showed terrific footwork, agility, and balance, despite the fact the safety-turned-running back had just 42 carries in college after agreeing to move to offense because of injuries at the position,” Twentyman wrote. “He chipped in 317 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while catching 11 passes for 203 yards and three more scores.”

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