Opportunity is knocking loudly for Maurice Alexander on path to try to make Lions' roster

Maurice Alexander's story is an underdog story, but the opportunity to make the Detroit Lions' roster is knocking loudly.
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

The sudden retirement of running back Justin Jackson last week created opportunities for others in a couple spots on the Detroit Lions roster. One is the battle for spots behind David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs on the running back depth chart. The other is at kickoff returner, where Jackson was the primary guy and pretty effective last season.

Enter Maurice Alexander. Signed by the Lions last year after a good season for the Philadelphia Stars in the USFL, when he led the league in kickoff return average (31.5 per), total kickoff return yards (787) and won all-USFL honors as a return man.

Alexander put himself in the mix for the Lions' kickoff return job with a nice performance against the Indianapolis Colts in the preseason. But he ultimately spent most of last season on the practice squad, before being brought back on a futures deal this offseason.

It has been quite a journey for Alexander. After playing quarterback then wide receiver at Florida International, and suffering an injury as a senior, he went undrafted in 2019. He was out of football until almost going undrafted in the 2022 USFL Draft (the 37th of 38 wide receivers selected). What was he doing in between?

Working at UPS.

Maurice Alexander has opportunity in front of him to make the Lions' roster

Alexander had arguably the biggest highlight for the Lions in the preseason opener, with a 95-yard punt return touchdown.

Punt return duties for the Lions are of course Kalif Raymond's domain. But the kickoff returner spot, even as the NFL tries to eliminate the play, is wide open.

Alexander also returned three kickoffs in the preseason opener, to Dylan Drummond's one. The Lions have four wide receivers locked into roster spots (Amon-Ra St. Brown, Raymond, Marvin Jones, Josh Reynolds), and Jameson Williams' six-game suspension opens up an extra opportunity, with a total of two spots on the 53-man roster possibly open.

The path to making the team as a fifth or sixth wide receiver is on special teams. That path for Alexander is now a little more open, as he tries to keep momentum going and seize a roster spot--likely as the Lions' primary kickoff returner.

Next. Detroit Lions 53-man roster projection after preseason Week 1. Detroit Lions 53-man roster projection after preseason Week 1. dark