'Weird' injury has Teez Tabor's future with Detroit Lions in doubt again

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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Things were going so well for Teez Tabor and then — poof — he was gone.

Tabor spent the entire offseason and the first week of Detroit Lions training camp taking first-team reps at cornerback, and more than that he looked like he belonged.

He broke up a pass to Marvin Jones. He forced an incompletion to Kenny Golladay. He seemed, for a few days at least, like he'd have a role on the Lions defense this fall.

But Tabor disappeared from an Aug. 1 practice when he tweaked something in his right leg and hasn't practiced since, once again leaving in doubt his future with the team that made him a second-round pick in 2017, No. 53 overall. 

Lions cornerback Teez Tabor catches a ball during training camp in Allen Park, Monday, July 31, 2017.

Tabor, with a wrap on his right quad, declined to discuss the exact nature of his injury Tuesday, but admitted the lingering ailment has been a source of frustration in what was supposed to be his breakout year.

"I mean, I love the game of football," Tabor said. "I wish I could do this every day. I wish I could play till I was 40, 50 years old. And you get so accustomed to it that it becomes regular, and when you can’t play or when you’re not out there, not that I take anything for granted because I don’t never take a practice or anything for granted, but you just don’t know till you’re not out there and then you want to be out there, so you’re a little mad. If you wasn’t mad, it wouldn’t mean anything to you."

Football means plenty to Tabor, which is why the past three weeks have been discouraging on a number of levels.

He said he suffered his injury when "I just tried to do something I normally do and then it hurt. That’s all it was."

Lions defensive back Teez Tabor defends against receiver Marvin Jones Jr. during practice during training camp on Thursday, August 1, 2019, in Allen Park.

Asked when he might return, Tabor said he's not sure and is trying to stay focused on the bigger picture for now.

"These things are weird," he said. "They’re weird. I feel good, then I just — I can’t — it’s weird. It’s super weird. So I’m waiting for it to not be weird no more."

Tabor could be a candidate for injured reserve if he's not ready to go by next Saturday, when the Lions have to cut their 90-man roster to 53.

He's the type of player worth stashing — a young cornerback with size — but at 23 years old, entering Year 3 of his four-year contract and having played sparingly the last two years, he's also the type of player who needs playing time to develop.

Tabor said he felt better, more comfortable, early on in camp, but he disputed a reporter's suggestion that he was playing the best football of his career.

As a rookie, opposing quarterbacks attacked Tabor, knowing he was in over his head. Tabor said he still felt like the offense was "getting after me" in camp, "but I was competing a little bit more."

"I wasn’t playing my best ball," Tabor said. "Nah, not yet. I’ll get there one day. One day when it turns over how it’s supposed to turn over it’s going to be real special. But I still got a lot of work to do."

Detroit Lions cornerback Teez Tabor (30) knocks the ball away from Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in Cincinnati.

It seems less and less likely that day will come this year, but Tabor said he's trying to use his injury as a positive and improve himself away from the field.

"I look at it as God works in mysterious ways," Tabor said. "I know he’s working for me, not against me, so I know whatever people are saying, whatever it may look like, I’m comfortable in my own skin, I’m confident in my game and I just had an unfortunate situation. But I know God, he’s working for me so it could be a blessing in disguise."

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Read more on the Detroit Lions and sign up for our Lions newsletter.

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