Lions CB Justin Coleman returns to practice; status for Sunday TBA

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

While it might be too short of a window to play this weekend against the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions cornerback Justin Coleman was cleared to return to practice Thursday after a five-week stint on injured reserve. 

In his second season with the Lions, Coleman led the team in defensive snaps a year ago. But that durability didn't carry over to 2020. He suffered a severe hamstring strain in the team's season opener against Chicago. 

Lions cornerback Justin Coleman has been cleared to return to practice.

Coleman's injury, along with a hamstring strain that's sidelined cornerback Desmond Trufant three of the first five games, has left the Lions short-handed in the defensive backfield to start the season. 

The silver lining is those injuries have cleared a path for young cornerbacks Amani Oruwariye and Jeff Okudah to get extensive playing time, giving them invaluable experience they would have been unable to replicate on the practice field. 

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At nickelback, where Coleman typically lines up, the Lions have leaned heavily on veteran Darryl Roberts, a free-agent addition this offseason. 

In 16 games last season, Coleman recorded 55 tackles, 13 pass defenses and a team-high three forced fumbles. By returning to practice on Thursday, the team will have up to 21 days to evaluate him and add him to the active roster. 

Practice squad swap

In addition to Coleman's return to the practice field, the Lions announced they've signed running back Dalyn Dawkins to the practice squad. To make room, the team released offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel.

The nephew of Hall of Fame defensive back Brian Dawkins, the 5-foot-7, 183-pound ball carrier went undrafted out of Colorado State in 2018. Dalyn Dawkins has spent the past two seasons with the Tennessee Titans, appearing in four games and recording 11 carries for 29 yards. 

At Colorado State, he rushed for 3,300 yards during his four seasons (5.6 YPC), while chipping in another 734 yards on 79 catches as a pass-catching option out of the backfield. 

Practice update

The Lions were down four starters for Wednesday's practice, but got three back in a limited capacity on Thursday with defensive end Trey Flowers (wrist), wide receiver Marvin Jones (knee) and center Frank (Ragnow) returning to action. 

Only cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring) remains sidelined.