The Detroit Lions play host one last time for the 2022 season on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. With DeShon Elliott’s shoulder injury forcing him to miss another game, Ifeatu Melifonwu will get the starting spot.
Melifonwu had his first career start against the Carolina Panthers last Saturday. While the Lions’ defense had their overall worst performance of the season, he did not help the situation. Melifonwu had two missed tackles and was beaten in coverage for a touchdown, playing a major role in allowing 320 rushing yards by the Panthers. He did, however, lead the team in tackles with 8. Head Coach Dan Campbell says he anticipates an improved performance from the safety this Sunday.
“Well, I would anticipate we’d see him react quicker. I think we’re going to see a player that sees it faster and triggers faster, and he knows what we’re looking for just from what we talked about, the intensity, the aggressiveness. So, yeah I anticipate we’ll see a better version of Iffy.”
In a must-win game for the Lions, they are facing many more injuries than they would like. As previously mentioned, Elliott is out with a shoulder injury, but Kerby Joseph has been banged up this week as well. He missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday with a back injury. While Joseph is expected to play Sunday, Melifonwu is essentially the Lions’ only healthy safety. Coach Campbell knows the challenges they face this weekend against Bears quarterback Justin Fields. In a press conference Friday, he said it’s time for Melifonwu to step up.
“…(Bears QB Justin) Fields is dangerous, you’ve got to get him down, man. That’s number one. Number two, Iffy man, aggressiveness, finish on the tackles, use your hands, he’s a big long athlete and he’s got the tools. And it’s just – alright man, you’ve got your first start under your belt now we need to see the aggressive side of you come out. You’ve got to play more violent in there and you do have to finish on these plays. That’s what we’re looking for from him.”
C.J. Moore is another option at the safety position, however, Coach Campbell says they don’t want to take away from what they are already getting from him on special teams. He says Ifeatu Melifonwu will get another chance this week and they will go from there.
Last Home Game of the Season
The Detroit Lions are expecting quite the crowd at Sunday’s game. Friday afternoon, the organization announced they were releasing a limited amount of standing room only tickets.
Kick-off on Sunday at Ford Field is set for 1pm ET.
Maddy Miller – Detroit Lions Beat Reporter
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