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By: Erik Schlitt
Leake is a spark plug player with return ability.
The Detroit Lions announced that they have signed running back/returner Javon Leake and placed RB Michael Warren on waivers with an injury designation in a corresponding move.
The Lions’ running back room is a bit thin at the moment: RB1 D’Andre Swift is nursing a groin injury (only participating in walkthroughs and stretching) and RB3 Jermar Jefferson has a “low” ankle sprain (unable to practice). With Warren getting injured (undisclosed), there were only three available backs just two days ahead of their first preseason game. Not an ideal situation, so it’s not overly surprising the team made a move to add depth.
Leake had only 155 total touches at Maryland, but he gambled on his skill set and jumped to the NFL after his junior season in 2020. With COVID-19 limiting his ability to showcase his athleticism and sparse game film, Leake went undrafted and signed with the New York Giants. He was released at cutdowns and eventually signed with Washington Football Team as a practice squad player.
His only NFL game experience came in Week 14 of last season when he was elevated from WFT’s practice squad and was their primary punt returner. He fielded six punt returns in that game but did not attempt to return any. Leake signed a futures deal with WFT after the season but was released this offseason.
Leake, 6-foot-0 and 215 pounds, is most successful at outside zone runs where he can create big gains when he gets to the edge. He possesses one-cut agility—a trend among Lion’s backs—and his acceleration affords him the potential to create plays as a situational back. His ability to throw his hat into the mix in both kick and punt returns is a bonus that could help him stick around the roster—even if it’s only on the practice squad.