“I have made the decision To retire from football,” Penisini, 25, wrote in an Instagram post early Saturday. “I’m definitely going to miss my teammates in the coaching staff but I’m glad I got to experience it. I’m happy and excited for whatever life has for me.”
A sixth-round pick out of Utah in 2020, Penisini — 6 feet 2, 335 pounds — has been a rotational player on the Lions’ defensive line the past two seasons and likely would have had a similar role this fall.
Asked about Penisini’s absence Tuesday, Lions coach Dan Campbell was vague about the reasons he was not in camp, but planned to meet with Penisini that night.
Penisini, who was at the Lions’ Allen Park practice facility this week, joins undrafted rookie cornerback Jermaine Waller in retiring early in recent days.
Campbell said Walker decided the NFL “wasn’t for him, and that’s OK.”
When counseling players who are considering retirement, Campbell said he asks them to consider two questions: What are their plans for after football, and, “five years from now (when) you look back on this moment, are you going to regret it?”
“You just try to get them to ponder it as much as possible and really — that’s really, ultimately for me what I want to know they’ve done,” Campbell said. “They’ve really thought it out and tried to at least look out and they’ve got a plan, they’re able to know they’re about to make a decision that they can walk away from and never look back on. So that’s part of it. Everybody’s — it hits everybody a little different, at different times and for us on that standpoint, it’s better that it happened now than later.”
Penisini, who started 12 games as a rookie and underwent surgery to remove calcium deposits from his shoulder last offseason, finished his NFL career with 49 tackles and one sack.
The Lions currently have two open spots in their 90-man roster.
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