With Taylor Decker back in the lineup after his nine-week stint on the Physically Unable to Perform list and T.J. Lang a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, the Detroit Lions are expected to have their projected starting five offensive linemen in the lineup against the Chicago Bears for the first time all season.
But Detroit’s outstanding health goes much beyond that, as pointed out by the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett:
This Sunday vs. the Bears is the first week the Lions are expected to have their entire starting offense. Offensive line, skill guys, everyone.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) November 16, 2017
All of the Lions’ offensive starters, as projected in the offseason, are healthy and expected to play on Sunday. That includes any players that suffered offseason injuries and were placed on injured reserve or on the PUP list.
To give you a sense of just how rare that is, take a look at the defensive side of the ball. They lost Jordan Hill, Kerry Hyder, Haloti Ngata and Brandon Copeland for the season already and are still dealing with lingering injuries to Ezekiel Ansah, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Don Carey.
Of course, calling Detroit’s offense “healthy” is relative to the entire league. Now a full two months into the season, rarely are any players truly “fully healthy.” For example, Golden Tate’s shoulder injury, suffered back in Week 6, has clearly affected his playing time since then. Prior to the injury, Tate was on the field 81 percent of the time. Since then, he hasn’t played more than 70 percent of the snaps in a single game. Still, Detroit’s offensive starters are all expected to play in the majority of snaps this week, and that’s something special.
Last year, the Lions offense was fairly healthy at this point. They, too, had their full offensive line intact in Week 11, but they were obviously missing a key piece like Ameer Abdullah. They also suffered a few huge injuries in that final stretch of play, including Matthew Stafford’s dislocated finger, Travis Swanson’s concussion, and Theo Riddick’s wrist injury.
In other words, the Lions need to take advantage of a fully healthy roster while they can. In today’s NFL, that rarely lasts. And considering Detroit is facing back-to-back divisional games with a shortened week coming up, this good bill of health is coming at the perfect time for Detroit.