The Detroit Lions completed their final practice in preparation for Saturday’s game against the Chicago Bears. It was a good news/bad news day in terms of participation for their offensive line.
First, the good news. T.J. Lang returned to the practice field on Thursday after sitting out two days with a foot injury. Last week, Lang followed the same trajectory: He missed the first two practices of the week, made it back for the last one. He ended up playing that week. That’s a good sign he’ll be ready to go on Saturday.
The bad news is that both Rick Wagner and Travis Swanson remained out on Friday and, at this point, seem like longshots to play. Last week, Corey Robinson filled in valiantly for Wagner at right tackle and even earned an impressive 84.4 grade from Pro Football Focus.
Swanson’s injury is a little more troubling. Graham Glasgow would slide to center, where he has succeeded in the past. But that would leave a giant hole at left guard. In previous games, the Lions have played Robinson at that position, but considering they’ll likely need him at right tackle--where he’s better suited anyways—the Lions will likely look elsewhere.
One possible option is Joe Dahl, who has yet to start a single NFL game. Jim Caldwell noted the possibility of Dahl playing this week during his Thursday press conference. “He’s been in the system a while,” Caldwell said. “Joe’s progressed physically, obviously the mental growth that comes along with being here over time. I think Joe will perform well.”
While it’s hard to tell if Caldwell is insinuating that Dahl will play this week, there doesn’t seem to be a clear better option. His only other choices are Don Barclay, who struggled in his only game appearance for the Lions against the Ravens, and Emmett Cleary, who’s better suited as a tackle.
In addition to Lang, TJ Jones and Nevin Lawson also returned to practice on Thursday. Both are expected to play this week.