The Detroit Lions are set to see a nearly full offensive arsenal for the first time all season. It appears Calvin Johnson is ready to make a return to the field after missing three straight games with a high-ankle sprain. Reggie Bush returned to practice as well after missing the Lions' game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Lions held brief practice today. No Fairley, Pettigrew, Ebron, Fauria. Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush were on the field.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) November 3, 2014
It's still unknown at this time whether any of the Lions' tight ends will be back in the lineup on Sunday, but the release of Jordan Thompson from the 53-man roster bodes well for Brandon Pettigrew, Joseph Fauria or Eric Ebron to get back on the field. Currently, the only fully healthy tight end on the roster is Kellen Davis, who was signed right before the Lions' trip to London.
Even with limited contributions from the tight ends, the Lions' offense should start to pick up now that Johnson is back in the lineup. Matthew Stafford would never wish to go without the No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL, but Johnson's absence afforded him to gain a rapport with the other weapons on the team, most notably Golden Tate. In the three games Johnson missed, Tate amassed 349 yards on 24 catches, two going for over 50-yard touchdowns. The interesting part will be seeing how Tate and Johnson can play off of each other now that both are healthy and in the lineup. The Lions potentially have one of the more dynamic duos in the league.
And the truth is the Lions will need those guys to step up in a big way. The run game has been MIA this season, ranking 31st in both average yards per run and yards per game compared to 22nd and 17th in those categories last season. And the offensive line hasn't protected Stafford as well, either. Through eight games the offensive line ranks 17th in Pro Football Focus' Pass Blocking Efficiency grade after ranking third last season.
With everyone getting healthy, it's time for the Lions' offense to step up and pull their weight. The Lions have won games without their best offensive weapon because of solid defensive play and some lucky breaks. If the Lions want to be real contenders this season, the offense needs to start dictating games as much as the defense.