At an early make-or-break point in his career, Ifeatu Melifonwu needs to carry good momentum from OTAs right into Lions' training camp.
An injury cost Ifeatu Melifonwu significant time in his rookie season. Then last year, a position switch and more struggles staying on the field limited his impact. Now, heading into his third season, he's clinging to a place in a refurbished and newly deep Detroit Lions secondary.
"I mean, it’s a little frustrating,” Melifonwu said. “No one wants to be injured. And get the position change. But ultimately, I got to look at it bigger picture. It’s what’s best for the team.”""
Head coach Dan Campbell also noted the growth he saw from Melifonwu during offseason work, based purely on getting reps he needs as a young player.
Ifeatu Melifonwu must carry momentum from OTAs into training camp
Jeff Risdon of Lions Wire pointed to Melifonwu as the Lions player who is on the hot seat and in "real peril" of not making the team. Risdon is absolutely right, even if other Lions may qualify for the hot seat distinction too.
As part of a piece naming an offseason standout for each NFL team, ESPN's Eric Woodyard had Melifonwu as that guy for the Lions.
"Injuries have limited Melifonwu to just 17 total games in his first two seasons, but coach Dan Campbell says he has seen growth in the 2021 third-round pick. Melifonwu made the switch from cornerback to safety ahead of his second season, and entering Year 3, he is making serious progress in adapting to the position."- Eric Woodyard
Melifonwu may fall victim to a numbers game when the Lions cut down to 53 players heading into Week 1. But he has to carry his good momentum from OTAs into training camp. He's sure to get plenty of run in preseason games too, so if he doesn't stick with the Lions other teams may notice if he performs well in those games.
The first draft pick the Lions used from the Matthew Stafford trade is at a defining moment in his career.