Cornerback Teez Tabor was trending in the right direction this offseason and to start training camp before he suffered an undisclosed injury that's forced him to be a spectator the last three weeks.
It was certainly not ideal timing for the former second-round pick trying to prove he could play an important role on defense in his third season. Tabor has underperformed in his first two seasons in Detroit, and the cornerback set out to rededicate himself to football this offseason. That was showing up on the practice field before the injury hit.
Tabor was back on the field for the open portion of practice Monday as the Lions began their final week of the preseason culminating with Thursday night's finale in Cleveland.
"It felt real good," Tabor said of being back on the field. "Just to get back out there with my teammates and just being out there with the guys."
Three weeks is a lot of time to miss this time of year. During that span veteran Rashaan Melvin has established himself as the favorite to start opposite Darius Slay at outside corner when the regular season starts. Where that leaves Tabor is a bit of a question mark.
He knows this a big week for him to show he can play the way he was before the injury.
"I need as much (reps) as I can get," he said. "Practice reps, game reps, mental reps, all the reps are good."
Tabor said he felt good in practice Monday, and didn't feel any lingering effects from the injury.
"I just love football, so I'm glad to be back," he said. "Every day means a lot to me. I try to come in the building early and staying a little late and try to do everything right."
It's unclear at this point with so much time missed where Tabor fits into the mix at cornerback.
It was important for him to get back on the practice field this week, and if he plays Thursday night, to show coaches the time away didn't impede the gains he was making this offseason and early on in camp.