Detroit — After muffing a punt in the season opener and showing a lack of ball security during a punt return against the Chargers on Sunday, Lions coach Matt Patricia wasted little time benching Jamal Agnew in the first half of the team's 13-10 victory.
Patricia yanked Agnew after officials missed Agnew fumbling a second-quarter return. It didn't really matter, since the Chargers committed a penalty on the play and had to re-kick. But when they did, it was Danny Amendola fielding the boot.
Agnew was also replaced on kickoffs, with rookie Ty Johnson moving into the role.
After the game, Patricia was asked about the decision and what it meant for Agnew's future in the role. The coach expressed continued confidence in the former All-Pro.
“Agnew is a great player," Patricia said. "He’s a competitor, he’s a tough guy, I believe in him. I think, just in the moment, thought that I had to make a decision there. But that’s just in that moment for this game, and that’s what it was.
"Other than that, he’s a tough kid. He’s ready to go, he’s ready to go back and work and get back to it and just keep improving. We know how dynamic he is, we know how explosive he is. We’ll just go back to work again. It’s part of the early part of the season where some of those mistakes we have to clean up and just eliminate them and go from there.”
As a rookie in 2017, Agnew earned first-team All-Pro honors as a punt returner when he averaged a league-best 15.4 yards and scored two touchdowns. Last season, he struggled, in large part due to sloppy blocking and penalties. He saw his return average dip to 4.8 yards through six games before a knee injury curtailed his chances to rebound.
On seven returns this year, Agnew has gained just four total yards. He'll look to regain the role during this week of practice, heading into next Sunday's game with Philadelphia.