Motivated by watching last season, Jermelle Cudjo makes case for roster spot

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Jermelle Cudjo watched football last season. He was released by St. Louis during the spring of 2014 and tried to make Kansas City’s roster in training camp last summer, but was waived.

And no team chose to sign him. So he had to spend last season as a free agent before the Detroit Lions decided to bring him in and give him a shot in free agency this offseason. So far, he’s doing everything he can to remain on a roster in 2015.

“I’m just hungry, you know,” Cudjo said. “Sitting out last year, having a chip on my shoulder and I just want to come out here and blessed with the opportunity to showcase my skill.”

He has been the surprise defensive player of the 2015 training camp for the Detroit Lions. He seemingly has made plays almost every day in practice and in both preseason games as well.

Cudjo has made five tackles through the first two preseason games – tied with Corey Wootton for the most on the team. He also has a sack and a recovered fumble. While games don’t mean everything when it comes to making a roster, producing in them doesn’t hurt.

Cudjo said the style Detroit is playing is somewhat similar to what he did in St. Louis, although the Lions attack a little bit more.

“Still the same: Get off and go, penetrate,” Cudjo said before Detroit’s second preseason game Thursday. “It’s more aggressive here and that’s what I like. I still need to show a lot.”

He might have an opportunity to show even more during the next two weeks. With Caraun Reid suffering an ankle injury against Washington on Thursday, more first-team snaps will open up during the third preseason game against Jacksonville, a game in which the starters are expected to play the most of any game this preseason.

If Haloti Ngata doesn’t return this week, either, there’s a chance Cudjo could start opposite Tyrunn Walker. At worst, if Reid and Ngata are out, he would be the No. 3 tackle in the rotation against the Jaguars.

And that could give him yet another opportunity – this time against NFL-starter caliber competition – to show he should be one of the 53 players to make the Lions.

“Tough, hard-nosed, scraps, comes off the ball with some power,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said of Cudjo after the first preseason game. “And he’s willing to work at it. He’s a hard worker.

“So those are the kind of things we thought we would get from him.”

He continued to prove that and now, because of an injury, he has a chance to force his way onto Detroit’s roster or put together enough good tape that he could end up on someone’s team this fall.