After releasing 22 players on Saturday and finalizing their official 53-man roster, the Detroit Lions announced Sunday that they have signed the following ten players to the team’s practice squad:
Running back George Winn, fullback Emil Igwenagu, wide receiver Andrew Peacock, tight end Jordan Thompson, offensive guard Rodney Austin, offensive tackle Michael Williams, defensive tackle Xavier Proctor, linebacker Julian Stanford, cornerback Mohammed Seisay and safety Nate Ness.
Now in the past, practice squads were only able to have eight players. However, this season, the NFL expanded the practice squad from eight players to 10 players. Plus they tweaked some of the eligibility requirements surrounding the practice squad, which now allows a larger pool of talent to be included among the practice-squad players and according to DetroitLions.com, head coach Jim Caldwell couldn’t be happier about the expansion of practice squad.
“I think it’s a good thing,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of the expansion of the practice squad. “I think it gives more opportunities for guys.
“Oftentimes, you end up releasing players that you‘d like to keep around in your organization so this will give us a chance to keep a couple more and obviously it gives a little more flexibility in at least two of the ten than we’ve had previously, so that’s a good thing.”
This new practice squad expansion certainly does allow the Lions to keep a number of talented players that happen to be familiar faces. You may have not noticed before but if you look at the 10 players that the Lions signed to the practice squad you will see that just about every player that made the practice squad is someone who the Lions cut on Saturday so that they could reach their mandatory 53-man roster.
I don’t know about you but I am very happy to see a number of those players on the practice squad, the first one being running back George Winn.
For those who read my article yesterday, you know that I clearly didn’t agree with the decision to waive Winn. He had clearly won the running back battle as he proved that he could be an asset to this offense on both the offensive side of the ball and in special teams, which is more than I can say for running back Montell Owens, who the Lions decided to keep over Winn. Don’t get me wrong, because I certainly was not trying to dis-respect Owens or what he bring to the table but to pick him over another running back like Winn who provides you with points not to mention plenty of play-making in any area that you put him, just didn’t make sense to me.
Nevertheless, I am happy to see that Winn is on the Lions practice squad. After having a successful preseason, where he gathered 161 all-purpose yard and two rushing touchdown, I was quite worried that another team may sign him before the Lions could but I am happy to see that I was wrong. Now I can only hope that Winn will receive a chance to move up the chains and possibly become a part of the Lions main roster before the 2014 season is over.
Looking beyond Winn, I have to say I was also happy to see wide receiver Andrew Peacock and full back Emil Igwenagu on list of 10 players who made the Lions practice squad.
When it comes Igwenagu, he was actually claimed off waivers by the Lions last week. Although, he wasn’t provided with much time to show what he was capable of, he apparently made a good enough impression on coach Caldwell and his staff to become part of the practice squad. I for one, couldn’t be happier for him. At 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds, Igwenagu, was an un-drafted free agent out of UMass, who only appeared in three games during his time with Eagles. Even though he is only on the Lions practice squad, I still think there is a chance for Igwenagu, to have success in Detroit at fullback. If you go back and look at his film with the Eagles, you will see that he was an excellent blocker, in fact, he was probably the best blocker they had, despite the fact that he played out of position at tight end. So, keeping him makes sense for the Lions, seeing that they can now evaluate him further.
The same goes for Peacock, who at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, showed the ability to separate and get open while also catching eight passes for 74 yards in the preseason. Coming into the practice squad, he is clearly seen as a slot wide receiver due his size and skill set and though some will say it will be tough for him to move him up the ranks, with receivers TJ Jones, Ryan Broyles and Golden Tate already playing in the slot on the main roster. I have to say that the Peacock could very well make a name for himself during his time on the practice squad, in fact, he could prove to be another Titus Young, but without the locker-room drama and legal woes.
After Peacock, the last two practice squad members that stand out to me, would have to be safety Nate Ness and cornerback Mohammad Seisay.
When I think of Ness, I think of safety who had a good preseason after earning up two interception, along with a few impressive tackles. Unfortunately for Ness, his productive preseason was somewhat trumped by the development and play of other safeties Isa Abdul-Quddus and Jerome Couplin, who were chosen over Ness to join the Lions.
Even so, Ness could still prove to be a nice commodity for the Lions practice squad. At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Ness is already a hard hitter for the free safety position, not to mention, he is a good ball hawk who has solid hands. At this point, he just needs some more good coaching and development and he will certainly get that during his time on the practice squad.
To be honest, I feel the same way about Seisay, who is also part of the Lions ten player practice squad. Similar to Ness, he too had a good preseason, where he was able to earn one interception and produce enough plays on special teams. However, due to his status as a nickelback, Seisay was not able to get past fellow nickelbacks Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson, who the Lions kept as part of the final 53-man roster.
While I’m sure Seisay, would have liked to have become a part of the main roster. I believe practice squad is a good situation for him. At this point Seisay is still raw and by being on the practice squad, he along with Ness, will continue to receive good coaching and overall development, which will provide him with an opportunity to move the up the ranks.
Overall, I am happy with the ten player practice squad that the Lions have put together. I certainly won’t be surprised if one or two of the players find themselves moving up the ranks before the 2014 season is complete.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
For more of L-Beasley’s (Lauren Beasley) sports news and in-depth sports content, click here.