The Detroit Lions used a fourth-round draft pick on Ronnell Lewis last year. Rather, they wasted one.
Lewis, an undersized 6-foot-2, 253-pound defensive end, is one of four players released Sunday by the Lions to cut their roster to 80 players. The club must trim down to 75 by Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The other players who failed to make the most recent cut were safety Chris Hope, cornerback Myron Lewis and receiver Cody Wilson.
Lewis played linebacker in college at Oklahoma, where he was given the nickname “The Hammer” because of his hard hits, especially on special teams.
The idea in drafting him was that Lewis – despite not being quick enough to play linebacker in the NFL – would help shore up the Lions’ special teams.
It never happened.
Lewis played in only eight games last year, was inactive for the final seven weeks, got arrested during the off-season for a fight outside a bar in Oklahoma and then fell behind again in training camp when he was put on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list for the opening week.
He showed some promise in recent preseason games, but not enough to justify keeping him on the roster, particularly with the addition of defensive ends such as Jason Jones, Israel Idonije, Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah and Devin Taylor.
Lewis needed to make his mark on special teams, which he clearly didn’t do. He played only one play on special teams in the first two preseason games before getting a better opportunity to prove himself last Thursday when he played on 12 special-teams plays with the top units.
Three days later, the Lions decided it was time to move on.
During an interview a couple weeks ago, Lewis expressed regret for how he got off to such a slow start in his career.
He indicated that some family-related personal problems, which he didn’t want to elaborate on, were a factor during his rookie year.
“Some of my personal issues kind of threw me off track a little bit,” he said. “Now I’ve learned to cope and deal with the things that have happened.
“Looking back, I could have done things a lot different. I feel like I should have worked harder. I just know deep down that I could have done a lot more than what I did.”
Giving up on a fourth-round draft pick so quickly looks bad for both sides.
“You want to take advantage of every single one, but not everybody makes it and not everybody works out,” coach Jim Schwartz told reporters following Sunday’s practice. “I think we have done a good job of free agency and second wave of free agency. We have done a good job of adding other players.
“You draft a guy like Ronnell you don’t know that you’re going to draft Ziggy the next year. You don’t know a guy like Devin is still going to be available. You don’t know that you’re going to be able to sign a Jason Jones and an Israel Idonije.
“That’s the decision that we made. You can never think too far ahead and you can’t think too far behind when it comes to draft picks.”
EXTRA POINTS — Rookie defensive end Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, the Lions’ first-round draft pick, left the field shortly after Sunday morning’s practice began.
Ansah was shaken up Saturday during a big collision with offensive guard Leroy Harris.
Ansah went to the sideline and met with the medical staff but was then cleared to finish the practice.
On Sunday, Schwartz refused to address whether Ansah was possibly suffering from concussion-like symptoms when reporters pressed him on the issue.
— The Lions traded fourth-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis to the Buffalo Bills, according to Pro Football Talk.
Detroit reportedly acquired veteran linebacker Chris White, a solid special-teams player, in return.
In the process, the club went from four players with the last name of Lewis to one in just a day. The last Lewis standing is linebacker Travis.
The Lions face Thaddeus’ new team Thursday night in Buffalo in the final exhibition.