Allen Park — The rookies are continuing to get looks for the Lions.
The question is, who is next?
On Monday, the Lions had 11 rookies on the active 53-man roster before T.J. Hockenson was placed on injured reserve.
Hockenson will join undrafted rookie defensive lineman Kevin Strong on IR, and five other rookies are on the 10-man practice squad.
That’s 17 rookies in the building, in addition to wide receiver Chris Lacy and John Atkins, who appeared in limited NFL action last season. As of Monday afternoon, the Lions had not yet announced a corresponding move for Hockenson, with the rookie's injury opening up potential holes in the blocking and passing games.
Isaac Nauta, a seventh-round pick from Georgia, could move back to his natural tight end position after seeing most of his offensive action at fullback.
One player who hasn’t gotten a look on game day yet is sixth-round pick Travis Fulgham, a wide receiver out of Old Dominion. Every other Lions’ draftee this year has gotten a look other than P.J. Johnson, a seventh-round defensive tackle out of Arizona who was cut in training camp.
As players have come and gone every day, and rookies are being given chances, Fulgham said he is familiar with how the Lions’ front office operates. He grew up rooting for New England, where Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia learned about team-building.
“Being a Patriots’ fan, I’ve always known how they operate stuff,” Fulgham said. “It’s the same culture, so I’m pretty used to it.”
In the preseason, Fulgham caught seven of nine targets for 147 yards.
He said veterans in the Detroit wide receiver room have been more receptive to coaching him up this season.
“I never thought the league was like this, but these vets are really taking me in,” Fulgham said. “Whenever they see something, they’re not shy to say something and correct me.”
After Marvin Hall went to IR with an injury last week, the Lions activated Lacy instead of Fulgham.
Lacy, playing his third game of the season, was in for three offensive snaps and eight on special teams.
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.