The Lions’ Week 5 contest resulted in a lopsided defeat against the Patriots, but also a number of questions related to their cornerbacks room. Most notably, Saivion Smith was taken off the field by an ambulance, after he suffered a potential neck injury.
Smith went down after engaging with Patriots tight end Hunter Henry. The contact on the play was relatively minimal, but caused him to be taken to hospital for further evaluation (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). Fortunately, head coach Dan Campbell said after the game that Smith has full movement in his extremities. As a result, he is hopeful Smith will be able to accompany the team on the flight home, per Justin Rodgers of the Detroit News (Twitter link).
A former UDFA, Smith made six appearances with the Cowboys last season, including one start. He has since split time between the 49ers and Lions. He had yet to make a tackle before suffering the injury, something which was also true of another, much more prominent member of Detroit’s secondary.
Amani Oruwariye was a healthy scratch, as noted by Rodgers prior to kickoff. The move came as a surprise, given his status as a starting outside corner and the highly-productive start to his career. With six interceptions in 2021, the former fifth-rounder emerged as a key part of the Lions’ defense, and put himself on the radar for a new deal. Heading into a contract year, he was reported to be a player the team was giving serious thought to extending.
However, Oruwariye lacked the ball production he had put up last season, with just a pair of pass deflections to date. That, coupled with Campbell’s stated intention of a shakeup regarding defensive personnel, shed light on the reasoning behind the decision. Will Harris filled in for Oruwariye, who represents a poor option as a backup on gamedays since he does not play on special teams.
Having lost 29-0 to a Patriots team missing each of its top two quarterbacks, more changes are likely to be made on the Lions’ defense, which was already the league’s lowest-rated before the game. For very different reasons, the time at which Smith and Oruwariye return to the field will be worth watching.