Tuesday afternoon, the Detroit Lions did the final cuts needed to get down to the 53-man limit. Of course, as you’ve probably been reminded 100 times already, this won’t be the final version of the team’s roster. There will be moves the Lions make in the next 24-48 hours that change the final few spots, and may provide some extra clarity for some of the decisions Lions general manager Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell made this week .
Because there were a handful of surprises made by the team. Nothing too surprising, as every player that was cut was either on our “Bubble Watch” or someone not even considered good enough to make the roster bubble. That being said, there were players that everyone on the staff believed were “IN” who were “OUT” and players we all thought were “OUT” who ended up being “IN”.
Here are the five biggest surprises from the Lions’ 2022 roster cuts.
Jermar Jefferson makes the 53-man roster
This was by far the biggest surprise of the cuts. Jefferson languished as a rusher in the preseason, leading almost everyone to believe he was not only behind Godwin Igwebuike but recently added Justin Jackson, as well. The preseason stats speak for themselves:
We won’t know for sure why Jefferson made the list until we hear from the Lions, but it almost certainly has to do with special teams. The Lions challenged Jefferson to take his special teams skills to the next level, and the second-year running back certainly showed he took that seriously this offseason. However, Jefferson doesn’t feel like a better special teams option than Igwebuike, and he doesn’t have the speed skills of Jackson. His inclusion over both remains a mystery. Perhaps a future roster move will provide some more clarity.
AJ Parker out
This one is much less surprising, as Mike Hughes has been challenging Parker for the starting nickel job for the past few weeks. However, when Campbell was asked about the status of the nickel competition after Sunday’s game against the Steelershe specifically pointed out Parker.
“AJ has proven to be reliable,” Campbell said. “He’s smart. He is cunning. Although he has limitations, he understands his own limitations and is able to play at least one step ahead, because he is an intelligent player.”
That was enough to tip the scales for me—and everyone else on the staff. However, I would expect to see Parker back on the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Lions retain three backup interior offensive linemen
Individually, it’s not surprising at all that the Lions chose to keep Evan Brown, Tommy Kraemer and Logan Stenberg. All three were fantastic in the preseason, and Stenberg specifically fought his butt to show he’s made some serious strides this offseason. He put enough good tape there in the past two preseason games that the former fourth-round pick might not have made it through waivers.
But, still, it doesn’t seem like the greatest use of rosters when you’ve now listed three backup interior offensive linemen. Kraemer alone has the versatility to play all three positions. I know the Lions’ offensive line suffered a lot of injuries on the offensive line last year, but this felt like a relative anomaly.
Some surprising Lions players are waived/injured
When a player is waived/injured, that means that player will hit waivers and if not claimed, they will go on injured reserve. If they make it to IR, their season is over – unless the team decides to then cut them with an injury settlement. In those cases, they cannot sign anywhere until the length of their injury settlement expires, and if they were to sign with the original team, they would have to wait another three weeks.
On Tuesday, the Lions waived/injured Eric Banks, Kevin Jarvis, CJ Moore, Trinity Benson, and Jashon Cornell.
The first three aren’t entirely surprising, as those players missed significant time in training camp. Benson has dealt with on-and-off injuries, but seemed to fight through them and played 26 snaps on Sunday. Cornell also missed some recent practices, and played seven snaps against the Steelers.
Both of those players felt like decent candidates to make the practice squad, and maybe even get a shot to play in Detroit should the injury bug hit the starters. But now it looks like they won’t play for the Lions in 2022 and could miss their entire season due to injury. That is unexpected, to say the least.
Anthony Pittman cut
Although there was one wise, beautiful writer who predicted this moveI’m sure that humble person would even admit that he wasn’t very confident in that decision, especially when he said that Pittman was his “last player out.”
Pittman is a talented player who has been one of the team’s best special teamers the past three years, and he has given the Lions depth as a situational edge rusher who can also return as an off-ball linebacker. Maybe his resignation is a positive sign about Julian Okwara’s health, but it’s still a pretty big surprise.