Cornerback Mike Ford opened training camp working as the nickelback with the first-team defense and closed the preseason with two pass breakups, but it apparently wasn’t enough.
According to multiple reports, the team has opted to part ways with the top special teams contributor as they whittle the roster down to a final, 53-man limit.
Ford took to social media Monday morning, posting a short thank you to Detroit after receiving the news.
Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Southeast Missouri State in 2018, Ford has spent his entire three-year career with the Lions.
Primarily used on special teams, most notably as a gunner in punt coverage, he’s appeared in 31 games for the Lions during that stretch. That includes seven starts at cornerback, although his defensive playing time has decreased each season.
A free agent this past offseason, the Lions re-signed Ford to a one-year, $1.2 million contract that included $400,000 in guarantees. And his practice usage suggested he would have a role, particularly after the team released top backup Quinton Dunbar.
Instead, the Lions are apparently ready to lean more heavily on rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu as one of the top backups to starters Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye on the outside. Presumably, Melifonwu will also take over many of Ford’s special teams assignments.
At nickelback, where Ford began camp, undrafted rookie A.J. Parker seized upon an opportunity and is now projected as the starter at that spot, with either Corn Elder or Nickell Robey-Coleman providing some veteran depth.
► The team is reportedly moving on from another defensive back, waiving safety Alijah Holder, according to the NFL Network.
Undrafted out of Stanford in 2019, Holder spent his first two seasons with the Denver Broncos. He saw a healthy amount of playing time in the preseason, registering 77 defensive snaps, as well as another 30 on special teams, but was unable to move far enough up the depth chart to secure a job.
The Lions are expected to roll into the season with Tracy Walker and Will Harris as the starters, with veteran Dean Marlowe the primary backup. C.J. Moore, a special teams standout, is likely to round out the rotation, with Jalen Elliott also in the mix for a roster spot.