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Detroit Lions activate rookie CB Ifeatu Melifonwu off injured reserve

The Detroit Lions will get another chance to look at one of the young cornerbacks they hope is part of their future.

The Lions activated rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu off injured reserve Tuesday, more than two months after Melifonwu played his last game.

Melifonwu injured his quadriceps in a Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers, when he was making his first career start in place of an injured Jeff Okudah.

Packers wide receiver Davante Adams catches a pass against Lions cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu during the second half of the Lions' 35-17 loss on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Packers wide receiver Davante Adams catches a pass against Lions cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu during the second half of the Lions’ 35-17 loss on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

A third-round pick out of Syracuse, Melifonwu was injured while covering Packers receiver Davante Adams on a 50-yard pass in the third quarter. He pulled up and grabbed his leg just as Adams caught the ball.

The Lions opened the season with one of the youngest secondary units in the NFL and have battled injuries at the cornerback all year.

Okudah suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon in a Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and the Lions placed rookie nickel cornerback A.J. Parker on IR with an ankle injury last week.

The Lions have started six different cornerbacks this season — Okudah, Melifonwu, Parker, Amani Oruwariye, Bobby Price and Jerry Jacobs — and played safety Will Harris at slot cornerback the past two weeks.

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Oruwariye, who leads the Lions and is tied for third in the NFL with five interceptions, and Jacobs, an undrafted rookie out of Arkansas, have started the past six games at cornerback.

Lions coach Dan Campbell said last week he liked Harris’ size in nickel packages, though both Jacobs and Melifonwu can play in the slot and are better in coverage.

“Will Harris, we want to see what he can do at nickel,” Campbell said after the Lions’ 16-14 Thanksgiving loss to the Chicago Bears. “He’s been playing there a little bit and we just, we like how he’s begun to develop. And anybody you feel like can multiple roles really brings a lot of value to your team, to your defense. So the fact he can play some safety and let him just continue to grow at safety.”


The Fritz Pollard Foundation, which promotes diversity in hiring in the NFL, is honoring the Lions for its diverse hiring practices for executive positions in a ceremony at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Friday.

The Lions hired general manager Brad Holmes, who is Black, in January, and added two minority talent evaluators, Ray Agnew and Mike Martin, atop their personnel department.

Along with the Lions, the organization is honoring Detroit Tigers legend Willie Horton, and Wally Triplett, the first Black player drafted by the Lions, at his 100th anniversary dinner.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions activate CB Ifeatu Melifonwu off injured reserve

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