With four games played, Lions edge rusher Julian Okwara could be activate from IR. On Monday, according to multiple reports, the team opened the window for the younger Okwara to return to the active roster.
The Lions now have 21 days (or 20 now) to add Okwara to the 53-man roster, or shut him down for the rest of the season. He suffered an apparent arm injury in the preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers, which seemed to jeopardize his roster spot as a player who was firmly on the bubble. But if he had been placed on IR at roster cuts, he would have been out for the season. So he was kept on the 53-man roster, and subsequently put on IR so he'd only have to miss a minimum of four games.
Okwara responded to Dan Campbell's call-out with three sacks in the preseason opener against the New York Giants. But he stayed on the roster bubble, and if he hadn't been injured in the preseason finale he might have been cut outright. The semantics of being able to essentially stash him on IR saved him.
Injuries have been a constant factor in Okwara's career, dating back to his final season at Notre Dame. But he'll return to practice this week, and the Lions could use him if he can prove he's healthy and he can stay healthy.
Julian Okwara could become a contributor for the Detroit Lions
The Lions' pass rush has had a breakthrough over the last two games, with a total of 12 sacks against the Falcons and the Packers. But injuries to James Houston and Josh Paschal have thinned their edge rusher depth, with Houston out long-term with a fractured ankle and Paschal currently on IR with a knee issue.
If Okwara is put on the active roster and he can be healthy, he could bring some extra juice to the Lions' pass rush. He played a career-high 13 games in 2021, with five sacks, six tackles for loss and nine quarterback hits as a flash of his potential. Not that a lot of help seems to be needed right now, but you can never have enough good pass rushers.