Starting OLB Tahir Whitehead of the Detroit Lions left Friday night’s week three preseason game versus the New England Patriots early in the 1st quarter and was officially ruled out for the game at halftime. He had already been dealing with a knee injury that had caused him to miss some workouts during the spring. There was no indication on how severe the injury or if he will even miss time at the postgame press conference.
When asked about Whitehead’s status Head Coach Jim Caldwell replied: “I wouldn’t know exactly (his status) until we have an opportunity tomorrow to sit down with the doctors and see where he is.” Whitehead started 15 games a year ago and led the Lions in tackles with 132. Losing a player of Whitehead’s caliber is not something teams want to deal with. Especially a team like the Lions who are relatively thin at the position, to begin with. Whitehead had already made a move from MLB to OLB to make way for rookie Jarrad Davis.
If Whitehead misses extended time it will be a big blow, but not necessarily anything that can’t be overcome. While the Jarrad Davis gets most of the publicity, and rightfully so, there is another rookie on the roster, Jalen Reeves-Maybin (JRM) that can fill Whitehead’s spot. JRM’s speed and ability to cover is undeniable, and he shines when you watch the tape. Just look at how JRM performed in Friday night’s tilt versus the Patriots. The play that he perfectly read and blew up, a screen pass to DJ Foster for a 3-yard loss.
Also, on third and short he plugged the hole to stop Mike Gillislee. While the initial reaction to the possible loss of Whitehead is upsetting, the Lions have nothing to fear with Reeves-Maybin as a starter. JRM’s play is going to force the coaches to keep him on the field even when Whitehead is ready to return.
Reeves-Maybin has been gaining fantasy value every week. With Whitehead’s injury update pending, he will be a hot pickup. Now is the time to get JRM, while you can still get him at an excellent value. I can see JRM putting up high tackle numbers with his sideline to sideline play, which is what you want in IDP. I saw him drafted in the 5th round of rookie draft back in June. Since that draft, his ADP has slowly been climbing. Now with the Whitehead injury, his value will surely rise even higher. Even if Whitehead’s injury doesn’t cause him to miss any games, I would still take a shot on Maybin. Get him now before it’s too late.
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