Lions promote Matt Veldman to active roster; sign speedster Carlin Isles to practice squad

Posted Dec 26, 2013

Isles has been dubbed "the fastest man in rugby"

Carlin IslesCarlin Isles (Photo: AP Images)

The Detroit Lions won't leave any stone unturned when trying to find talent.

Let's not forget YouTube sensation Havard Rugland, who turned a trick-shot video into a tryout and then into an invite to Lions training camp.

The Lions brought in a few players to workout earlier this week – like they do most weeks during the season – but this batch included rugby star Carlin Isles, who's been dubbed "the fastest man in rugby."

Isles' workout with the Lions was so impressive, in fact, the team signed him to their practice squad.

The team had an open spot after promoting tight end Matt Veldman from the practice squad to the active roster to take the place of Brandon Pettigrew, who was place on injured reserve Wednesday with an ankle injury. The Lions also placed TE Dorin Dickerson on IR with a concussion.

"Indianapolis has a rugby guy as a pass rusher (Daniel Adongo) and I know San Fran brought a guy in (Lawrence Okoye) that was a shot-putter or a discus guy," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Wednesday.

"I mean, you're looking for athletes. It hasn't been unusual to see basketball players transition to the NFL. That's not just recently, that goes way back. Even track guys like Bob Hayes and Renaldo Nehemiah, things like that. An athlete's an athlete. There are skills that you can develop, and if you see something you like then you can work with him."

Adongo, a linebacker, played two games with the Colts earlier this year. Okoye, a 2012 Olympian and defensive end, is on injured reserve with the 49ers.

"I think our personnel department (led by Sheldon White) does a really good job of searching that," Schwartz said. "There's a lot of layers to stuff like that, but whether it's a rugby player or a basketball player, if they can bring something to the table that is unique and make it worth working with them then we're open to it."

Isles, 5-foot-8, 160 pounds, was a collegiate All-American sprinter in the 60-meters at Ashland and has also ran the 100-meters in 10.24. He's been clocked at sub-4.3 in the 40-yard dash.

"He's a legit track guy," Schwartz said. "I mean, his background happened to be rugby, but it's probably more track and that speed, that's not unusual at all to see track athletes get chances. I mean, the guy for Denver (return man Trindon Holliday) that went to LSU had a similar background and maybe even similar size.

"I don't want to compare him to, but if you want to develop one of those guys you have to give some guys a chance here or there and this was an opportunity to be able to do that because of the way our roster is and bringing some of the guys up that we have, we have a spot open.”