Lions running back Jermar Jefferson prioritizing special teams in battle for roster spot

Lions running back Jermar Jefferson practices during minicamp in Allen Park on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
Lions running back Jermar Jefferson practices during minicamp in Allen Park on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. /

Lions second-year running back Jermar Jefferson saw minimal action as a rookie, but he knows the path to seeing the field more this year.

With their final pick of the 2021 draft, the Detroit Lions took Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson. He ultimately played in seven games as a rookie, with minimal (15 carries) but promising (two touchdowns) work as a runner.

The Lions are deep at running back, led by D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. Craig Reynolds, after a solid run as the lead back for a couple games last year, looks like a third lock to make the 53-man roster.

After that, there will be a battle for likely two spots. Godwin Igwebuike made the switch from safety to running back last year, and became the Lions’ kickoff returner as well as a core special teamer. But he had some ball security issues when opportunity knocked as a running back.

Undrafted rookie Greg Bell topped 1,000 yards on the ground at San Diego State last season, and he’s clearly someone the Lions prioritized signing after the draft.

Jermar Jefferson knows his path to a roster spot and seeing the field

Jefferson did not make his debut until Week 6 last season. The week before, Lions head coach Dan Campbell explained why Jefferson was left as the team’s last 2021 draft pick to get in a game.

"Look, we’d love to find a way to get (Jermar) Jefferson into the game,” Campbell said. “We think he’s a kid that, man, you’d love to get him some real game-time experience. The hard thing right now is getting into the game because special teams is where he’s got to be able to help us first and he’s not quite there.”"

Jefferson only played 36 offensive snaps last year, and he played even less on special teams (12 snaps). But via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (subscription required to read the link), the second-year man knows what his path to sticking around is this year.

Unless injuries hit, carries will be hard to come by for Lions’ running backs without the surname Swift and Williams, with Reynolds picking up a good portion of whatever’s left. So beyond earning a roster spot, the path for others to seeing the field regularly is elsewhere and special teams is that path. Credit to Jefferson for embracing it.

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